Family Matters: The Brotherhood of Chance the Rapper & Vic Mensa

Vic Mensa blacked out Chance's face in a recent pic, is their longtime friendship in trouble?
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Vic Mensa blacked out Chance's face in a recent pic, is their longtime friendship in trouble?

Rap's always had a strong sense of comradery. Collectives and crews seem like families, a brotherhood with a "my brother’s keeper" mentality. Breakups aren’t seen as artists going their separate ways but the collapse of a family you believed would always be together. Roc-A-Fella’s breakup was like watching the fall of a royal family that was destroyed internally, the collapse of a dynasty, and watching Cash Money be blown apart recently feels eerily similar.

The first time I ever saw Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper together was on a song titled “Family” from 2012. A music video that showcases a Thanksgiving theme, a feast for friends that didn’t need the blood's thickness to gather as family. Vic and Chance, two unique talents both coming from the same city on a similar path to rap stardom. It was easy to see that they both had potential to leave that table and be the next artist to stand under the scorching spotlight.

In the first week of Acid Rap’s release, one of the first debates I remember having was, “Who had the better verse on 'Cocoa Butter Kisses'?” It was like having fraternal twin cousins and forced to choose who you like more. Chance's delivery is absolutely bizarre, he has the rhythm of a graceful drunk who is both elegant and eccentric. Vic is equally unorthodox, the way he packed words into his flow is absolutely ridiculous. It was the orange cassette tape line that Chance rapped, it pushed me right over the edge of nostalgia but having both rap alongside was like seeing Chicago’s past and future. The question of who had the better verse would be sparked each time the two appeared together - Vic’s “Tweakin,” Mick Jenkin’s “Cross Roads,” and the joint release “Suitcase.” This is without going back and placing the early Save Money collaborations under a microscope. I couldn’t post a picture of the two together without someone inquiring who had the better pen.

Maybe that’s why one of my favorite lines from Acid Rap is, “And I still get jealous of Vic and Vic's still jealous of me / But if you touch my brother, all that anti-violence shit goes out the window along with you and the rest of your team.” It showed that the two artists on the same path were very aware of each other’s progress. Envy and jealousy are very human traits, it’s only dangerous when those feelings consume and they begin to corrupt. Being in this industry, especially with someone who is chasing the same dream, it’s impossible not to be a little green when they succeed. You can applaud them, celebrate their victory, but it will make you want to work twice as hard. Also, the line made it very clear that their competitive relationship was between them and them alone, Chance claimed to always have Vic's back. 

The thing about friendship, the thing about family, you won’t always be on the best of terms. Naturally, you can grow apart and exist on opposite ends of the spectrum. Vic signed a deal with Roc Nation and Chance continued to be independent, this change alone could’ve easily separated the two. What’s interesting, Chance has somehow broken into the industry and once again the two are at the table together, this time as budding superstars. Chance and Vic are now able to look to their left and right and see Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Kanye West sitting around them. For his 23rd birthday, Vic Mensa tweeted a picture that showed him with Jay, Beyoncé and Chance. It’s a rare picture, one that became even more infamous last night when Vic uploaded the picture to his Instagram but this time with Chance blacked completely out. [He's since deleted that picture.]

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It was impossible not to react. I haven’t seen that much investigative speculation since Black Chyna was seen with Kylie Jenner. Was it a joke? A prank that was much smaller than the internet’s reaction. By now we know the internet isn’t able to separate trolling from beef. There was a search for any public fallout or shade thrown in interviews. Both artists have been rather tight lipped about one another but Chance said during his Reddit AMA that he would be featured on Vic’s upcoming album, Traffic. Joey Purp, a fellow Save Money artist, took to Twitter and indirectly responded by stating, “It’s not that serious y’all chill,” following up the message by quoting “Acid Rain.”

Chance and Vic can be total opposites, light and darkness, forever entangled in one way or another. No one knows where their relationship stands, it could be brotherly or otherwise. It could change minute to minute, like all of our relationships. But people care. People care about Earl and Tyler, Jay and Dame, Jay and Solange, Kanye and Cudi, Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish, Lil Wayne and Birdman - it’s because these are people you believe have a bond that goes beyond just making music but as members of an extended family. A family that so many of us feel like we're a part of.  As Carl Winslow and Steve Urkle taught us in the '90s, family matters.

By Yoh, Johnnie Yohchran, aka @Yoh31.