“I’m living proof the Messiah can die and be resurrected/ I survive, y’all crucifying me for my message/ Might, pull up in a Lam’ to silence you I’m a shepherd.”
In the first lines of his freestyle, Vic makes multiple religious references, including the death and resurrection of Christ, and Jesus is referred to as both the lamb and the shepherd, with Vic ascertaining his power and indicating that he will spread the truth with his ‘Gospel.’ Mensa as a black man uses religion to create symbolism for his rise from the bottom up and establishing himself as a leader and role model that is reaching to ‘save’ other black men.
“We kick door, industries where we was blackballed/Trappin’ out the storefront, I used to play the backyard.”
In this verse, Vic talks about entering new industries, where there is little minority presence, and potentially bringing business and prosperity to the neighborhood where he once grew up. This is important for black men as it presents a major issue of discrimination, as they are ‘blackballed’ from certain industries or opportunities due to the social stereotypes and racism that are present in employers of all sizes, perpetuating the cycle of poverty in these neighborhoods where businesses often choose not to operate due to socioeconomic risks.
“Every single sentence is a letter to the ghetto/ Where the Section 8 mothers is struggling off a Link Card/ Most father figures in prison or in the graveyard.”
Vic describes life in the ghetto, with poverty, crime, and single-parent households that cannot provide for their families and children and rely on bare government support. His verses are a message to the ghetto, meaning that he remembers where he came from and those that are still left behind living in such conditions.
This is important to many black men who themselves come from broken families, and this causes lifelong trauma to their psyche, a lack of stable development, and results in similar behavior based on Bandura’s Social Learning theory, and as learned in the article in bibliography #10, black boys with fathers present tend to do much better cognitively and in academics.
“I’m Jamie in Django that means free/ Maya Angelou in a trap full of caged birds.”
In this verse, two cultural references are made, the trap being a rough neighborhood (in reference to Maya Angelou’s autobiography), where black people are stuck due to gentrification and socioeconomic barriers, while Jamie Foxx is the protagonist in the modern Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained, where a slave achieves freedom through violence.
A black man making this blend of reference to the artistic geniuses that paved the way for someone like him is a recognition that black people must break glass ceilings in their respective industries, and to reach this level, one must break free from the chains of societal limitations.
“These days in the streets, get rich or die tryin’/ Either go hard in the paint or sit on the sidelines.”
Here Vic discusses the work ethic that helped him make it through in the music business. He appreciates the tremendously hard work that he and his team put into the music in order to not get left behind. Many black men look up to these hip-hop artists or athletes as role models but are not aware of the hard work they must put in to see even the minimal results. The blend of these references to hip-hop and basketball is intentional as these are major influences and pathways for young black men to achieve upward mobility.