Within the stadium’s backstage of indistinguishable corridors and white rooms, Mensa and his crew of four prepare for a 30-minute performance to open the Cologne, Germany leg of Justin Bieber’s Purpose tour. Looking over his set list, the 23-year-old rapper instructs his heavily tattooed engineer Papi Beatz to make final tweaks to the playback of “New Bae,” the second title on a white sheet of paper on the table. Mensa softly hums the hook, indicating in which section he wants the alterations made, then slouches back. “Should we cut Wolves?,” he wonders aloud.
Catering staff enters the room to stock the fridge with water, juice and Red Bull, as well as bottles of Grey Goose and lime-flavored Smirnoff, to complement the D’Usse, M&Ms and Skittles already on the table. Largely ignoring the drinks, the team doesn’t hide their excitement about the candy. Vic cracks a Red Bull.
Scrolling through the e-pages of Highsnobiety on his phone, Mensa remarks, “Y’all need more gas.” When I ask for an explanation, he mentions the names Faith Connexion, FEIT and Saint Laurent Paris in particular, and points out that he doesn’t usually wear sneakers. “But this South Africa piece is cool,” he mentions.
Vic digs through a yellow Supreme duffle bag and selects a custom Dr. Romanelli leather jacket, that you may have already spotted if you follow the rapper’s Instagram. Talking on Romanelli, Mensa mentions, “I had been trying to find someone to design something custom for these Bieber dates, and I’ve been a huge fan of Romanelli for like eight years. He’s such a cool ass dude.”
A custom leather jacket and Converse All Stars were the result of the meeting. “I’m like Malcom MacLaren meets Wu-Tang Clan, but most of the clothes I buy are old, I shop a lot at flea markets,” notes Vic on his personal style.
Minutes before Vic is set to take the stage, another member of Bieber’s 50-plus camp raps on the door to deliver some of Mensa’s new tour merch. The team reacts with approval, Mensa’s tour photographer Jake immediately sheds the shirt he’s wearing to change. Vic tries on one of the newly arrived shirts, poses in the mirror, then returns to the plain white one he was previously wearing.
Now check out Highsnobiety‘s exclusive photo set at A$AP Rocky’s house in Beverly Hills.
- Photography: Chris Danforth / Highsnobiety.com