"Affecting change in the hood is why I vote," Vic Mensa says in an empowering interview for Vevo's "Why I Vote" campaign. The 22-year-old rapper breaks down his passion for social justice and political activism, which he developed growing up in a turbulent Southside Chicago.
"All my earliest memories with police officers are like, 'Hey, get your fucking hands out that hoodie before I punch you in the fucking face!'" Mensa recalls. "'What the fuck did I do? What'd I do? What law did I break?' You live with that enough and there's not really any turning back."
After 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by local police in 2014, Mensa joined friends on the streets in protest. Despite the peaceful nature of their demonstration, Mensa says he was "grabbed" by police. "We hadn't broken any laws," he says. "We were just organizing on the street, as is our right as Americans."
These issues resonate with Mensa, who emphasizes voting as a way to create change both at a local and national level. "[Chicago] has more killings per year than American soldiers dying in Iraq," he says. "You get to a point where you've grown up in a system of violence – created, perpetuated violence – that you feel no other option."
Additional episodes of Vevo’s "Why I Vote" will feature Kesha, T.I., American Authors and more.