Excessive violence and aggression are staples of toxic masculinity – a topic Vic Mensa rapped about when challenging the posthumous idolization of XXXTentacion by his fans. During the 2018 BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher, Mensa caught a wave of controversy with the lyrics, “We all know you won’t live that long/ I don’t respect s**t posthumously, homicide ain’t new to me/ catch up with Akademiks at your eulogy.” 

Supporters called out Mensa for lacking consideration of the deceased rapper's friends and family, especially XXXTentacion's mother who was in attendance. 

“I had no idea a grieving mother would be in the audience to honor her lost son,” Pitchfork reported Mensa said in a clip. “However, I vehemently reject the trend in hip-hop of championing abusers, and I will not hold my tongue about it.”

"Sometimes it can be hard to have empathy for someone else, until you need God to have empathy for you...When I first said the s**t in the rap, I wasn't having any empathy for the man because I was seeing no humanity in him," he said.

The late rapper was accused of -- and later heard admitting to -- horrendous acts of domestic violence against his girlfriend. 

"I was seeing things that the young man had did were wild. I wasn't seeing no humanity in him until I needed God to have empathy for me."

While Mensa doesn't regret his lyrics, he does a have an enlightened perspective on violence, and he attributes his new ideology to feminist writer bell hooks. 

The rapper said growing up in Chicago made him "numb to death." 

"Death is very normalized to us, and it's f**ked up, but we see death so much, we make jokes about that s**t," Mensa said. 

“My whole life, I was programmed in that way,” Vic Mensa said during an interview on The Breakfast Club. “When I started to read bell hooks, that’s when I peeped game and started to break down why I was so violent.”

Her essays highlight the world’s need for feminism and confront the mechanics of gender. 

Mensa references hook's We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity during the interview.

“Hearing her talk about black masculinity, male masculinity and how the traditional avenues of being a man were taken from the black man in America all the way back from the boat in slavery, then through Reconstruction and it was only black women working. Black men had to find their own new ways of feeling masculine or being a man because they weren’t able to be the breadwinner – start playing jazz music, and also being very aggressive and violent. A couple years back, I really started to dissect that. I’m still growing and trying to grow out of those things.”

View the full interview below:

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