Vic Mensa’s been in the hip hop headlines lately for criticizing XXXTentacion supporters in his BET Hip Hop Awards freestyle. Yesterday, he responded to the controversy by dropping a new song, “Empathy.”
Mensa had rapped the lines, “Only time you bear arms is in a wife beater, loser / Your favorite rapper’s a domestic abuser,” in his pre-recorded freestyle, which aired on the awards show after it had been edited. Former X collaborator DJ Scheme implied that Mensa had referred explicitly to the late rapper in the un-edited version of the freestyle, which incited an outcry by X’s fans.
Later on Instagram, Mensa said he stood by his freestyle, but also offered his condolences to the rapper’s mother, who was in the audience when it aired.
It’s unclear when “Empathy” was recorded, but if it’s a response to the controversy as Mensa says, then it’s an oblique one. Over soulful, manipulated vocals and a steady beat, he takes a hard look at himself, reflecting on the regretful ways he’s behaved in his own personal life: “And as a man, we don’t understand the damages we’ve sown / Just by stringing her along, and everybody heard the song / I fucked up, admit that I fucked up.”
Listen to “Empathy” below: