After catching some flak for maing reference to late rapper XXXTentacion’s history of abuse during his BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher verse, Chicago rapper Vic Mensa not only replied with a sincere explanatory video on his Instagram but also naturally hit the booth to get his feelings recorded in a heartfelt song produced by his good friend Johan. With “Empathy,” it appears Vic hopes to show a little more of the titular virtue while imploring his and XXX’s fans to do the same.
“Only time you bear arms is in a wife beater, loser/Your favorite rapper’s a domestic abuser,” he spat during his verse, which received some light censorship by the show’s producers before airing, probably in response to the backlash online. “[Censored] we all know you won’t live that long/I don’t respect [censored] posthumously.” Many fans, including frequent XXX collaborator believe that the “posthumous” bar referred specifically to the troubled Miami rapper, who was shot and killed while shopping for a motorcycle in June of this year.
While Vic used his Instagram message to apologize to XXXTentacion’s mother after finding out that she was in attendance to accept an award on his behalf, Vic also doubled down on his anti-abuse message, saying, “I vehemently reject the trend in hip-hop of championing abusers and I will not hold my tongue about it.”
“Empathy” tries to split the difference between the two perceived extremes, while also potentially turning lemons into lemonade by turning curious listeners into genuine fans. The earnestness of the song, from its confessional, contrite bars, to its insistence that Vic is only trying to do the right thing by women, may be enough to convert a few angry objectors into bonafide supporters.