Vic Mensa’s ’16 Shots’ is the Perfect Anthem for Our Times

Chicago, Illinois
Rap artist Vic Mensa

’16 shots’ is a song by Chicago-based Hip-Hop artist Vic Mensa from his 2016 EP titled There’s A lot Going On. It was written in response to the October 2014 murder of Laqaun McDonald by officers of the Chicago Police Department and the unveiling of graphic video footage that had been kept under lock and key by police superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel for more than a year after the shooting occurred. The video footage sparked outrage as it showed that 17 year old McDonald was shot a total of 16 times, the first 3 as he was walking away from police and the final 13 as his presumably lifeless body was spread out on the ground. Not surprisingly, it was announced this year that those responsible for the young man’s death are going to be let off with little more than a slap on the wrist (if even that) for their savage attack on the teenager’s life and dead body.

The music video for ’16 Shots’ premiered on October 22, 2016 on Tidal two years after Laquan McDonald’s death. In it, Mensa is seen taking on the Chicago PD as they arrive to violently suppress his one-person rebellion. Actual video footage from the night Laquan McDonald was killed is interspersed throughout the music video. It is a video and song with a message of Black empowerment and an expression of a community uprising against systematic injustice and oppression. Watch the video and get into the lyrics below:

16 Shots

[Verse 1:]
Ready for the war we got our boots strapped
100 deep on Stage Street
Where the troops at?
The mayor lying saying he didn’t see the video footage
And everybody want to know where the truth at
On the South side where it’s no trauma centers, but the most trauma
A lot of cannons but you don’t want no drama
I can’t imagine if it was my own mama
Got her first born son stole from her, he never had a chance
And we all know its cause he black
Shot ’em 16 times, how fucked up is that?
Now the police superintendent wanna double back
Cops speeding up to the block like a runnin’ back
Tension is high, man these niggas is irate
You can see it in they eyes, they wanna violate
Screaming out “Oink! Oink! Bang! Bang! Gang! Gang! Gang! Gang! Murder! Murder!”
Murder they mind state
I just made me a mil’ and still militant
This ain’t conscious rap, this shit ignorant
N*gga, hair trigger
Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun
When I cock back, police better run

[Hook:]
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, fuck 12
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, fuck 12
16 shots
And we buckin’ back
16 shots
16 shots
And we buckin’ back
16 shots

[Verse 2:]
They threw a little girl down on the pavement
Pushed her off the bike and said, “Stay out the way, b*tch”
She was bleedin’ on the ground through her braces
This is what happens when n*ggas don’t stay in their places
The mayor duckin’ when he fired the superintendent
But resignation come with bonuses and recognition
So we gon’ break in the stores on Magnificent Mile
And if we gotta go, let’s go to prison in style
Cops killin’ kids and stayin’ out of jail
But Bobby Shmurda can’t even catch bail
So it’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Now I got everybody yellin’ out, “Fuck 12”

[Hook:]
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, fuck 12
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, fuck 12
16 shots
And we buckin’ back
16 shots
16 shots
And we buckin’ back
16 shots

[Refrain:]
There’s a war on drugs, but the drugs keep winnin’
There’s a war on guns, but the guns keep ringin’

[Verse 3:]
Me and Lord got a clip with an extendo
And we rollin’ with it, hangin’ out the window
We on 16th ridin’ by the police station
We might make a pork rind out of pig, bro
Somebody tell these mothafuckas keep they hands off me
I ain’t a mothafuckin’ slave, keep your chains off me
You better hope this 9 millimeter jam on me
Or get blown, I hope you got your body cam turnt on
Fuck a black cop too, that’s the same fight
You got a badge, b*tch, but you still ain’t white
This for Laquan on sight, when you see Van Dyke
Tell him I don’t bring a knife to a gunfight

[Hook:]
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, fuck 12
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, fuck 12
16 shots
And we buckin’ back
16 shots
16 shots
And we buckin’ back
16 shots

[Refrain:]
There’s a war on drugs, but the drugs keep winnin’
There’s a war on guns, but the guns keep ringin’
Singin’

[Bridge:]
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer
Mu-u-u-u-murderer, murderer

[Outro – Jeffrey Neslund:]
The video shows Laquan walking southbound down the middle of Pulaksi, which is a four lane street in Chicago, two lanes going northbound, two lanes going southbound. There are squad cars visible in front of him and also squadcars behind him. The dash cam video is from one of the responding units which was trailing Laquan approximately 20 to 25 feet behind him. The shooter’s squad car is visible as it drives past Laquan and parks in the middle of Pulaski behind another squad car. Two officers then exit that vehicle with their guns draw. At that point, Laquan begins to walk away from the officers on a southwest angle towards the sidewalk. What Laquan is about 12 to 15 feet away from the officers, the width of an entire lane of the southbound traffic, one officer begins shooting. Laquan immediately spins to the ground and the video then shows that the officer continues to shoot Laquan multiple times as he lays in the street. 16 seconds pass from the time Laquan hits the ground until the last visible puff of smoke rises from his torso area. An officer then approaches Laquan, stands over him and appears to shout something as he kicks the knife out of his hand.

5 thoughts

    1. I think it’s always remained somewhat political though it was most often on the underground. Now it is surfacing back to the mainstream somewhat thankfully.

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