Vic Mensa may not be at the level of stardom he'd tell you he deserved yet, but that doesn't mean he lacks the respect of his peers. The Chicago native didn't get signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation by accident, and over the last couple years, he has even found himself working on music with the city's top dog.
Most Kanye fans are aware of Mensa's contribution to "Wolves," a cut from The Life of Pablo, but in a recent interview with Peter Rosenberg, Mensa dished on what it's like to be in the studio while Kanye is at work making music. He clearly digs the process, and says a lot of Kanye's music is created by taking the best bits and pieces from the people around him at the time.
"I really started working with Kanye after freestyling with him in the studio, we were just putting bars together and he liked the ideas I had. So I started coming around and working on writing for things in the super early stage of Pablo," said Mensa. "I think it's dope the way Kanye puts things together. Freestyle is the basis of rap for me, that's where it all started for me, that's like the essence of it... The way that Kanye kinda just like, is always having everybody input their ideas, whatever they're feeling that day, is fresh."
Though that sort of makes it sound like Kanye is leaning too heavily on ghostwriting, Mensa insists this isn't the case. At the end of the day, the star of the show is Kanye, and Mensa said that's always clear when you go through the creative process of a song with him.
"Make no mistake, Kanye is the centerpiece and the important ingredient of writing any Kanye song. He's the most important ingredient at all times," said Mensa. "Sometimes, as they do, people use that to try and maybe attack his lyrical ability, and I just want to set the record straight, that Kanye is the most important part of writing a Kanye song. That's just the truth. Things that he comes up with, when nobody puts any lines in, are the dopest ones."
Mensa is right that there are plenty of critics who dismiss Kanye's pen game, but that's sort of missing the point of why people like him at all. Kanye has been so influential as a producer that he could have never rapped a single bar and still would have driven hip-hop forward by leaps and bounds. His peers recognize this, and even if Kanye isn't dropping knowledge on the level of André 3000 or 2Pac, he's definitely bringing something unique to the table.
If you have most of an hour to kill, you can watch the full interview with Rosenberg up top, or alternatively, you can watch Mensa discuss his relationship with Kanye starting around the 11:35 mark.