With the recent successes of Chief Keef, it's easy to believe that Chicago is all about drill music these days, but it's not, because on the other side of the spectrum, there's a whole other scene going on. And rapper Vic Mensa is clearly one of its major players.

With his latest mixtape, 'Innanetape,' Mensa offers listeners a mixture of intelligent rhymes, soulful beats and R&B-styled-choruses that all meld together well. In fact, the entire project has that soulful, dusty record feel, which has always been a popular sound in Chicago.

On the first two cuts, 'Innanet' and 'Orange Soda,' Mensa shows lyrical precision, spitting multi-syllable words with great ease. And on 'Lovely Day,' he uses a rapid delivery with stellar breath control.

Features on 'Innanetape' consist of Ab-SoulChance the Rapper, Rockie Fresh and Joey Purp for starters, plus, a list of producers including Boi-1da, Hit-Boy and DJ Dahi.

On the cut 'Time Is Money,' Mensa spits introspective rhymes over an echoed voice sample and takes a philosophical approach with, "They say the darkest night comes before the brightest morning / I'd like to think I'd ask the right things if God was right before me."

On 'Tweakin,' he does some celebrity name-dropping and spits a little tough-talk over a video-game-sounding baseline. The track is both entertaining and catchy.

What makes 'Innanetape' fun to listen to is its strong production, as producers make the project sound more like an album than a mixtape. It's like Mensa wanted to put out his best work right now, and not use the tape as a teaser.

Songs like 'Run,' featuring Thundercat, and 'YNSP,' featuring Eliza Doolittle, could have easily been saved for Mensa's LP, for the production quality alone. But instead, he chooses to release these songs now, which only makes it seem like he has even better songs up his sleeve.

Overall, 'Innanetape' is a standout project for its overall sonic tightness and skilled vocal performance, as Mensa clearly shows he has a passion for being innovative and thought-proving at the same time.

And if you like soulful beats with that old school R&B sound, you'll get a lot out of this tape, as it's chock-full of moments where it feels like you're in a steppin' club right in the middle of Chicago.

Based on this release, it'll be interesting to see what Mensa delivers in the future because it clearly sounds like this young Chi-Town rapper is just getting started.



Listen to Vic Mensa's 'Innanetape' Mixtape

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