From the onset of his first project since last year’s There’s Alot Going On, Vic Mensa makes it clear the growth he displayed in 2016 is here to stay. The Manuscript begins with Vic’s proclamation that the new him is permanent. “I’ve grown too much to ever be the old Vic/I’m new and improved, call me Vic 2.0,” is his response on “Almost There” to fans asking for the same artist from years’ past.
Vic conveys appreciativeness over feel-good piano keys, as if he’s sitting on something momentous and he knows it. Mr. Hudson’s assist on the intro hook helps to express a message that this project is merely an appetizer for something much larger, whether that’s the release of his debut solo album or the boost in status he expects said album to bring. The tracks following are presumably a preview.
“OMG” shows the growth Vic continues to make as he seamlessly interweaves social commentary into stanzas not necessarily geared towards changing the world. Featuring Pusha T and all his coke-rap glory, this song is an exercise in wordplay for Vic, who doesn’t sacrifice words or flow to elaborate on any one topic more than necessary. Still, he effectively forces you to acknowledge certain realities without killing the mood.
Vic goes on to show he continues to struggle with whatever drugs he failed to shrug off in the last year on “Rollin’ Like a Stoner.” He excuses his addiction as him being a rock star over a hook that flashes his ability to make cross-over turn-up anthems, even if the body of the song lacks substance. The synths and percussion make the song more infectious than it should be.
The Manuscript ends with “Rage,” which solidifies the project as a hodgepodge of sounds Vic is capable of executing reasonably good. This alternative-rock sounding outro provides the type of build-up Vic is used to from performing with his old Kids These Days band. He gets introspective on the song while also blurring the direction of his future project. One can gather from listening to The Manuscript that Vic Mensa will effectively lean towards the sound of any one of these tracks, but the chance remains that his next body of work will be as eclectic. The EP isn’t a bad listen, but that’s because it’s only four songs. Hopefully the full-length debut is more focused. Trying to cater to different tastes at once could leave Vic Mensa appealing to fewer people, not more.