Vic Mensa

Inside Sweetlife Music Festival feat. VibeRotation 20 by Alex Hersh

The only thing as unique as the wide assortment of food options at the Sweetlife music festival this year was its set list. For the first time, Sweetgreen booked the Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, MD for two days as opposed to the one of past beats. As a volunteer with the production team, I was lucky enough to cop a general admission ticket and attend the festival for free as long as I put in my hours volunteering as Artist Concierge, toting some dank munchies backstage for the performers.  With this write-up I hope I can capture the view of the cogs in the machine I witnessed, and show you all how I felt about one of the youngest and criticized festivals of our day.

Lineup

Many critics were left with a bitter taste in their mouth that the rise in ticket price from the event last year didn’t correlate to a better, more relevant lineup. While I got my ticket for the price of a few sweltering hours running between D.C.’s gourmet food trucks, I was more than happy with who I was going to see. As an altogether hip hop fan, XXL Freshmen of the 2015 class Raury and Goldlink, along with Vic Mensa, Bishop Nehru, Kendrick, and D.C. native Lightshow are standout, fitting acts that found a comfortable niche among the non hip hop talent of the lineup, of which there was plenty. That being said, this experience brought me to the forefront of indie and pop music culture, giving me the opportunity to see wonderful and energetic performances from artists I hadn’t heard of such as Allen Stone, Sinkane, and San Fermin.   

Food and Activities

Between bites of lobster rolls and pork belly Vietnamese tacos, festivites meandered through the grounds during set downtime, experimenting with all the different flavors of Sweetlife. While no less expensive than the classic hot dog from concessions to hold you over, the variety of options gives concert-goers a different form of art to appreciate and indulge in. This is an example of the dedication Sweetlife has for the holistic nature of the experience, in providing the customer with a memory that is much greater than just a destination for live music. Along those lines were tents from Alex and Ani, Flashtat, an arcade, and even a charging station where you can plug your phone into a bicycle which chargers your tech as you pedal. I don’t hold these peripherals against Sweetlife, and I don’t believe that it takes away from the musical experience at all, but rather innovates it in a way that other music festivals have yet to really do on the same scale.

Intimacy

When I tried to grade Sweetlife as a music festival, my review felt flawed, incomplete. I was looking at each arm of the festival separately, leaving me only with seemingly unrelated fragments. When I saw the full scope, understanding what I believe are Sweetgreen’s goals with the event, it reshaped the significance and impact on me. In every possible way, Sweetlife commands its patrons to challenge themselves and what they’re comfortable with. The fried chicken BLT sandwich with a donut for a bun feels like an unholy compromise between rule makers and breakers, but I’ve never before seen anything like it. More than half the acts were unrecognizable to my mental music collection. The spectacular and almost enchanting part of the weekend was that at all times I was comfortable and uncomfortable, satisfied and hungry, lost and found. But so was everyone else there. We were all on this journey of discovery together, and it connected me to everyone else there in a way I haven’t felt since I was a curious kid with my classmates on a field trip. There were no scene kids or hipsters, because there was no definitive “scene”, but rather a Pollock inspired hodge-podge of genre and culture that wriggles out from underneath the thumb of anyone who tries to pin it down to one category.

It wasn’t flawless. Because the concert didn’t sell out as predicted, the tickets were too pricey for the target demographic. Along with food and transportation, it’s incredible to me that college and high school kids were able to scrounge up enough scratch to get to the pavilion and stay well fed. In my opinion, however, that was the only design flaw that actually hurt the company, and took away from our experience as guests. Intermittent but obligatory (place was low-key designed for profile picture backgrounds) social media interruptions slightly tainted this new, organic form of art consumption we were all experiencing, but that doesn’t reflect on Sweetgreen but rather our own generational vice. Having no prior background in music festival culture, I’ll never forget my time at Sweetlife, and I’m pleasantly surprised and thankful at the in depth thought and procedure that went into planning the event. Hopefully I’ll be there for lucky number 7 next year. Check out the gallery with different pictures from the festival, and also the corresponding VibeRotation (#20) made up of a bunch of songs from the artists who performed.

Leather Corduroys featuring Vic Mensa - HAVE U EVA by Alex Young

Savemoney affiliates have been very busy of late. Towkio released his ".WAV Theory" project a few weeks ago, Chance The Rapper is hard at work with Donnie Trumpet on his SURF album, and Vic Mensa recently signed a deal with Roc Nation. News today comes from Leather Corduroys as the creative duo, KAMI and Joey Purp, release a song with Vic Mensa titled "HAVE U EVA". The new track will have your head banging with its hitting bass and pondering many questions about the hard-knock life. Give it a listen below and a play at this weekend's party for excitement.

Kanye West-Wolves f. Vic Mensa and Sia by Alex Hersh

In a world where it means everything to be unique and different, people still criticize artists that push boundaries and use music as a mode of expression, regardless of what form that expression takes on. Kanye’s new drop, “Wolves” which features verses from both Chicago native and SaveMoney affiliate Vic Mensa as well as Sia was released yesterday in his adidas Originals Yeezy Season 1 promotional video. The song itself and its release are both examples of his artistic ability as an ode to his development and ambition to create something different. The stark contrast between the almost church-like accents of Sia’s melodic tone and verse, and the distorted auto-tune covering up both Kanye and Vic’s voices creates a sound that is directly representative of the lost and found nature of love that they are singing about. The composition of this lonely ballad is just as two-sided as it’s content: love is distorted and complicated and indecisive. Vic Mensa’s experimentation here shows that he understands the artistry behind the song, and it’s refreshing. Whether he was instructed by Kanye or not, his versatility and his obvious expansion of the spectrum of his own sound is a quality that doesn’t exist popularly in today’s commercialized music culture.

It’s easy for people to hear auto-tune and justify it as another 808s, or hear a grimy, overproduced drum line and think Yeezus. It’s harder for people to accept it for what it is. Kanye has no tenure here, he isn’t and won’t be perfect, but Kanye has earned our appreciation and respect for this song, along with the artists therein featured. Check it out featured below beginning at 8:30, and craft your own opinion.   

Get Involved by Alex Hersh

While Vic and Kaytranada have kept it poppin’ with their latest two drops, we are excited to hear from the quieter Savemoney counterpart, Towkio, in his newest track: “Involved Ft. Vic Mensa (Prod. Kaytranada)”. Featuring also an involuntary head bob upon each listen, this song gives me some spring vibes that unfortunately don’t match the iced out weather here in D.C., or anywhere on the east coast for that matter. Hopefully this is the first track of a few more to be released early from Towkio’s “.wav Theory” which has been continued to be pushed back until April. Keep an eye out for upcoming information on Vic and Kaytra as well, and be sure to show the track some love below. 

Kaytranada - Drive Me Crazy feat. Vic Mensa by Alex Hersh

Vic Mensa is one of the most exciting emcees in the industry right now. Another face of the Savemoney conglomerate, he’s got a versatile flow that allows him to spit on even the trippiest of productions. Kaytranada, in the same vein, presents a unique and mesmerizing style that pairs well with Mensa’s abilities. Their most recent single, “Drive Me Crazy”, follows up their late summer release “Wimmie Nah” and doesn’t sacrifice a sliver of intensity or bounce in comparison.  These two truly represent the meaning behind making art and music. With a palpable chemistry and a filling sound, these two hungry artists are taking the right steps in the music industry, and making music not with a checklist of mundane hooks, verses, and time signatures, but with attitude, soul, and an audible passion. I can guarantee that when Vic or Kaytranada release something that it’ll be different, that it’ll be the child of serious thought and growth, and that the effort that’s put into the tracks is reflected in what comes out of my speakers. That being said, I can’t wait to hear more from them, as individual artists or as a duo, and hope that they remain on the course that they’ve been traveling on thus far. Listen the new single below, and check our OfficeVibes tab for a few of our favorites from the artists.