Vic Mensa wants to shock people into paying attention.
The Chicago rapper made waves last month when the music video for his song “Camp America” depicted white children in cages. But if you thought that was provocative, get ready for the visuals on “3 Years Sober,” the latest track from Mensa’s rock group 93Punx produced by blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
The video opens with Mensa applying mascara, donning lipstick and pulling a blonde wig onto his head. Soon, he’s outfitted in red heels, fishnet stockings and a sequined, Confederate flag dress.
“I wanted to wear this Confederate flag dress as a middle finger to a symbol of racism,” Mensa told CNN.
Over the course of three minutes and 22 seconds, Mensa plays tug of war over birth control with a lookalike of Vice President Mike Pence, who has been criticized for his stance on LGBTQ issues. He gets thrashed around by two men who write words like “fraud” and “homo” on his face. He also walks into a women’s restroom only to have a cast of “BBQ Becky’s” call the police on him, a reference to a white woman in Oakland who called the police on a group of black people at a cookout.
Mensa said he wanted to “satirically address some of the things going on in the world and in our nation in particular.”
“‘3 Years Sober’ is about identity,” he said. “It’s about anti-establishment. It’s about a very real and prevalent violence against the LGBTQ community.”
Mensa said the move to dress in drag was inspired by icons like David Bowie and Prince. It’s also a nod to the 1995 cult classic “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” which stars Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo as three New York City drag queens who embark on a road trip.
“I want people to take away that it’s OK to be different and that it’s OK to challenge societal norms and break out of boundaries, whether it’s genres or sexuality or gender,” he said. “And it’s radical to be yourself.”
While the reaction on social media has been mixed, Lil Nas X is reportedly a fan.
Mensa shared a screenshot of an Instagram DM from the “Old Town Road” rapper.
“i love 3 years sober,” it reads.
Watch the video for “3 Years Sober” here.