Vic Mensa Freestyles ‘Heathens’ about Chicago Gun Violence

"At times I feel guilt for being the boy who lived."

By Hayden Wright

Vic Mensa grew up in Hyde Park, Chicago and knows the city’s complicated history by heart. Hyde Park, specifically, was an affluent neighborhood deteriorated by white flight, with successful urban renewal initiatives that have made it the epicenter of hope for the violence-afflicted South Side. Barack Obama’s primary residence (besides the White House) sits blocks from where Mensa grew up.

Related: Vic Mensa Joins Standing Rock Protest

The rapper just released a freestyle over Twenty One Pilots’ “Heathens, and it tackles the unrest in his hometown. Mensa dives into the gun violence epidemic blighting Chicago and expresses relief (and guilt) that he survived it.

“Grew up around heathens, the streets made us Tarzans/ Slangin’ Mary Jane, swangin’ out a mini van/ Banana clips for gorillas and cold killers/ Percy Miller black card got no limits,” he raps. “My history is filled with a long list of regrets/ Looking back at my past, doing this victory lap/ Surprised I made it, young eyes grown jaded/ Since they killed my brother dead wonder why I be faded/ At times I feel guilt for being the boy who lived.”

Listen to Mensa’s explicit take on “Heathens” followed by Twenty One Pilots’ original on


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