Vic Mensa tackles the police shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald in his harrowing video for “16 Shots,” a cut off his politically charged new EP There’s Alot Going On. “16 Shots” debuted exclusively on Tidal.
In the video, the Chicago rapper is shown walking aimlessly through a desolate part of town when police confronts him. An onslaught of nightsticks follow, but Mensa – wearing a jacket that says “RESIST” on it – continues to get up from the attacks, which include a tazing and, eventually, a police shooting.
“Cops killin’ kids and staying out of jail / But Bobby Shmurda can’t even catch bail,” Mensa raps on the track, referring to the rapper who this week accepted a seven-year prison sentence plea deal after a long stretch behind bars awaiting trial.
In the video’s devastating final moments, it recreates the October 2014 shooting of McDonald, who was shot 16 times at close range by police officer Jason Van Dyke; the officer is currently facing first-degree murder charges. The “16 Shots” video also shows police dash-cam footage of the McDonald killing.
“This record is like self-defense,” Mensa said of his new EP. “Because to me, Laquan McDonald represents Emmett Till, which represents every name down the line and since then a lot of things have changed, but one main thing hasn’t changed is that our lives are not respected.”
In a recent video for the “Why I Vote” series, Mensa explained that the issue of police shootings weighs heavily on him this Election Day.
“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 said. “‘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.”