Two of Chicago’s biggest MCs, one a newcomer (Vic Mensa) and one a veteran (Kanye West), have teamed up for “U Mad,” a trap-flavored track that will appear on Mensa’s forthcoming EP, Street Lights. Mensa is a rapidly rising star—formerly a member of Kids These Days, he went solo in 2013, stealing the show on Chance the Rapper‘s Acid Rap, releasing a critically acclaimed mixtape (INNANETAPE), and appearing on XXL’s Freshman cover all within a year. The release of this song also coincides with the announcement of Mensa’s signing to Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s imprint on Universal Music. It is clear that Mensa is on the cusp of a major breakthrough. “U Mad” is likely the first song that many will hear from him, and it is a fairly foolproof mainstream debut—it has the requisite trap/drill beat, Kanye feature, and memorable hook. It is catchy and will almost certainly receive significant airplay on Hot 97 during the summer months.
The only problem with “U Mad,” really, is Mensa. As far as introductions go, this one fails to leave much of an impression—it is difficult to see what sets Mensa apart as an MC. He’s verbally dextrous, certainly, with a strong sense of rhythm and a good ear for beats, but the lyrics are bland, following predictable tropes with the occasional tasteless simile thrown in (“I might hit a bitch in the elevator like Ray Rice”). The track improves instantly once Kanye arrives—he effortlessly upstages Mensa, rattling off punchline after punchline assuredly and delivering the strongest verse in the song.
Still, a cosign from one of the biggest rappers around can’t hurt Mensa’s credibility, and the song will increase his visibility dramatically. Check out the video, featuring Kanye and Vic rapping in a strange, plushed-out warehouse, below.