Vic Mensa's "Camp America": Where's the Commentary?
Vic Mensa’s name has been in headlines for lots of reasons: some good, some bad. I’ve known about Vic Mensa and his presence in music for the better part of five or six years, but I’ve never felt inclined to listen to his music, for whatever reason. However, I think his latest release and comments on CNN are not being talked about nearly enough in the music commentary sphere.
Recently, Vic Mensa released a track called “Camp America,” which makes a commentary on the conditions of immigration detention centers, which is one of the issues that not many people in pop culture have been commenting on. He also discussed duality that is rap pre and post Trump’s America.
First, I want to discuss Mensa's Trump comments. He essentially said that rap music loved Trump and then the entire culture turned against him when he started to question Obama’s religion and nationality. This is completely true and I wish it was discussed more. The number of rap songs from the early 2000s that mentioned Trump in a positive light is large. Rappers loved Trump, they loved staying in Trump Hotels. Rap stars idolized him because he was a man with a lot of money, a young wife and media presence. Trump hasn't been acting any differently now that he's in office, his impact is just felt on a larger scale. Vic Mensa talks about this as well, he says that he’s just a reality star on the highest level, which is true. In the early 2000s, rappers were fine with Trump when he was influencing thousands of people as a business owner, but not as the president. So really, despite all of the hate that Kanye got for signing a MAGA hat or whatever, he is being true in remaining a Trump advocate.
I'm oversimplifying things here, so do your own research and come to your own conclusions, but it's interesting that this hasn't been something that was widely discussed sooner. And really, I don’t think it’s being widely discussed now, even though Vic Mensa did this interview.
Now, let’s talk about “Camp America.” I obviously follow music commentary and review channels and I haven’t seen any of them talking about it, even though its been out for over a week now.
Perhaps the reason that this song isn't being discussed is because Mensa made a cross-genre move. “Camp America” is more of a rock song than anything and was released by his band 93PUNX and not Vic himself. But, Vic is primarily a rapper. Think back to when Kanye released "Lift Yourself" and how everyone couldn't stop talking about it. I know that the situations are different in that people were shocked by “Lift Yourself” and that’s why they couldn’t leave it alone, but "Lift Yourself" was not rap, I honestly have no idea what it was. Additionally, “Camp America’ is also shocking. It’s a song that actually exists to create a conversation and these conversations are not being had.
"Camp America" reminds me more closely of "1-800" by Logic. It's a song that is about a heavy topic, but the song is not where the weight is. In my opinion, the weight is more on the message itself and in part, the music video. The video for "Camp America" shows white children living in awful conditions and depicts real situations that have happened to immigrant children in ICE detention centers. Though immigrant children are already people, Mensa is using white children to humanize their experiences. White America cares more for white children than other children, that's just a fact.
Do I like the song? Yeah, but I like it for its social commentary more than the song itself, meaning that I probably wouldn't just throw this song on for the fun of it. I'm wondering how this song will fit into the spectrum of his future releases and since I’ve never really listened to Vic, I'm wondering if fans and consistent listeners were surprised by this release. I personally wasn't, though I know a very little bit about Vic, I know that he's very outspoken and that's only right that it translates into his music. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I really want to know why no one is talking about this song. The video doesn’t even have 100,000 views yet. I really hope that this changes soon and people consume this content and circulate it.