by Ian Stonebrook
Vic Mensa just turned 21. While most people celebrate the occasion in the company of good friends at a local dive bar, Vic did his b-day a little differently. Rather than run through Wrigleyville until the wee hours of the morning, the Chicago native found himself on stage in New York City. What stage, you ask? The birthday boy was brought out by Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn to rap over â€œClint Eastwoodâ€ at the Governorâ€™s Ball, headlining the stage opposite of the highly anticipated Outkast reunion.
While rocking a festival with a former Blur band member certainly serves as a â€˜woo hooâ€™ moment for young Vic, it is becoming business as usual for the fun-focused artist. Since going solo after a celebrated tenure with Kids These Days, Mensa has remained busy. He has risen in the ranks of emerging artists, dropped the acclaimed InnanetapeÂ and toured the world with the likes of J. Cole, Wale, Disclosure and Danny Brown. In addition, heâ€™s alsoÂ inked a shoe deal. Backed by PUMA, the leader of the SAVEMONEY movementÂ has joined the strong staple of fresh artists and creatives on the brand. We caught up with Vic to discuss the perks of PUMA life, his style influences and what to expect from his anticipated Street Lights EP.
Nice Kicks: Coming up as an artist, was getting a sneaker deal something you ever dreamed of?
Vic Mensa: Itâ€™s definitely a dope opportunity and something that I wanted as a kid. Even more recently, Iâ€™d been combing through magazines and peeping the PUMA stuff because a couple of my friends have been on it. Iâ€™ve known Rockie Fresh and Dyme-a-Duzin for a pretty long time. They were already my homies before they ever did stuff with PUMA. When I saw them do fresh sh*t with PUMA in the magazines â€“ specifically Rockie because we started around the same time â€“ Â I thought it was ill and that I should be on there.
Nice Kicks: How has getting backing from PUMA allowed you to put more into your music career?
Vic Mensa: Time will tell, but in general, PUMA is a really dope company when it comes toÂ how they invest in their artists and involve themselves in projects. I havenâ€™t been with PUMA all that long, but Iâ€™m very aware of the things theyâ€™ve done with Rockie Fresh and Casey Veggies, and the stuff that Iâ€™ve talked to them about. With PUMA doing my tours and a mixtape, they are forward thinking as far as how they partner themselves with the next generation of artists. They helped me out with documenting my European tour, which is something that was a huge priority for me. They got a dude from Scotland who ended up being one of my friends too, just a real cool kid, to come out through Europe with us. We met him out there and he shot London, he shot Paris, came to Germany and just kicked it with us and put out those videos. They came out really dope, and Iâ€™m really glad they got posted on the Internet because the tour itself was mad epic. I really wanted people to be able to experience that, so it helped a lot.