Ask any fan of modern rap: they'll swear we're in the middle of a renaissance. You could argue that the golden age of hip-hop happened well over a decade ago - or for more devoted fans, it happened well before the turn of the millennium. You're probably right, but to the deniers, the age of instant-gratification and Twitter trends acts as their proof. "There's never been anything like this!" they'll insist. "There's more artists embracing the old spirit of hip-hop than ever before!" they might add. But what they're forgetting - as most fans of popular music do - is that within this cloud of new-tracks-everyday there lacks a large collection of quality hip-hop. Besides the obvious power-groups of Top Dawg Entertainment, A$AP Mob, or Odd Future, there are no rap-conglomerates that are actually following through with a consistent mix of new releases.

One label that falls into this particular category is Roc Nation. At its conception, Roc Nation was sure to be the next major hip-hop collective. With Jay-Z behind the reigns and some very promising artists initially signed, the life of Roc Nation seemed healthy and promising. But as Roc Nation's first "big" signee J. Cole released his debut for the label, The Warm Up, the fate of Roc Nation was consequently silenced, as J. Cole was the first of many it artists to release a not-so-great album (or mixtape) under the protection of Jay-Z's legacy. Artists like J. Cole seem to be coerced into music lovers’ libraries, as your friends will tell you, they're “the best.” Instinctively, you should like these artists. They've got the big label behind them, just enough hype to make them credible, and a fanbase that will ensure you, no matter what, you have to be listening to this guy.

Roc Nation's latest artist to release a budget-busting debut studio album is Vic Mensa. After Mensa's debut EP for Roc Nation There’s Alot Going On, Mensa became the next emcee to pick up where J. Cole fell off years ago, with an album that was “totally worth the hype.” But what There’s Alot Going On actually proved wasn't that Mensa was the next big thing, but rather the next Roc Nation signee to fall short of all of the hype they'd received. So now, the real make or break moment's finally arrived: Vic Mensa has released his full-length studio debut, The Autobiography; a chronological tale of Mensa's upbringing, and the demons he's faced along the way. But frankly, with a title literally named The Autobiography, Mensa's debut is one that's easy to judge by its cover.

Bouncing back and forth between slightly authentic and totally dated, The Autobiography is essentially a modern tale of rags to riches, but forgets to drop the misogyny found in Mensa's influences. A vaguely political theme clouds over the album as a whole, and once Mensa finally gets his moment to shine, he falls miserably short. Mensa's tougher-than-you personality finds him having a mid-career crisis after only one EP - and a dismissed firearm charge - and with his ostentatious presence he declares he's rap's best newcomer.

Big-name features are aplenty on The Autobiography, with production credits from Pharrell Williams and Weezer - to name a couple - but these legendary names don't do much in Mensa's favor. On the first track to feature anybody, ‘Homewrecker’ (featuring Weezer), Mensa spits a tale of his backstabbing girlfriend and a drug deal gone wrong. Mensa's foggy approach to storytelling is severely one-sided, making it hard to declare what's reality and fiction. ‘Wings’, featuring Pharrell Williams and Saul Williams is one of Mensa's standout tracks on The Autobiography, and proves that he does in fact have some good intentions, and the stylistic approach to prove it. Whereas tracks like ‘Heaven On Earth’ re-iterate those intentions, there are also track like ‘Rolling Like A Stoner’, a poorly auto-tuned frat rap anthem.

As Vic Mensa will continue to be one of hip-hop's most buzzed about figures, his full-length Roc Nation debut is a patchy tale of contemporary rap, as Mensa tries to find the line between intimate self-confessions and "inspirational" anthems. Even with the political backbone supporting the album, Mensa is crucially unfortunate in his timing, as we already received the game-changing hip-hop album of 2017: Kendrick Lamar's DAMN.. Mensa's debut proves the fact that, just because you have big names supporting you, doesn't mean you earned it.