Chicago rapper Vic Mensa first appeared in the hip-hop group Kids These Days, but when the band split up in 2013, he found himself - you guessed it - down on his luck.
This song came out of that time - he was broke and sleeping on a friend's couch in Hollywood while trying to get his solo career going. He hated Hollywood and was feeling depressed. Still, most of the music he was making was happy sounding, which didn't reflect what he was feeling. On this song, he expressed the gloom and apprehension that marked his true state of mind.
With some help from this song, Mensa pulled out of his funk and got his own place in Hollywood, which he decided wasn't so bad after all.
This is the lead single from his debut EP Street Lights. It finds Mensa rapping about how despite his quickly increasing fame and popularity, he still gets down on his luck. The Chicago spitter turns to drugs in order to escape from these hard times, but in the process he loses valuable time when he could be working on his career.
After guesting on Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap, Mensa released his mixtape Innanetape in September 2013. This song was conceived for that project, but didn't fit. After a tour with J. Cole, he repurposed the song, putting the lyrics to a house music beat created by his producer, Stefan Ponce, using Logic Pro software.
When they put the song together, Mensa and Ponce were thinking ahead to their next tour (Ponce served as Mensa's DJ for live performances), a trek with Disclosure. The music they came up with fit the vibe of tour, but also let listeners in on Mensa's story with this very personal track.
Mensa says that James Blake's music was an influence on the vocal processing of this song, especially the pitch shifts.