For seven years, the California-raised Vince Staples has left his mark on hip-hop through a mix of wit, imaginative storytelling, and goofy deadpan commentator. The strength of his voice is proven throughout his entire discography — no matter what type of features he can get, nor what type of sound is hot, you know a Vince Staples verse when you hear one. A master at one-liners, street commentary, and overall badassery, Long Beach representative’s new, self-titled record sees him linking up with his good friend – and rap’s favourite producer – Kenny Beats to produce a refreshing 10-track LP that perfectly illustrates who he truly is as an artist, and (hopefully) a star.
Unfurling gradually, ‘Vince Staples’ takes a while to get good. Returning to the rap realm with his latest single ‘Law Of Averages’, he continues to pen blunt observational pieces to document what’s normal down in the LBC. A slow head-rocker, its sombre melodies and downbeat tempo make it one for those hip-hop heads who enjoy something relaxing on a long drive, perfectly opening your ears ready for what comes next. It’s a tone that characterises the first half of the record: slow, moody, and — with Staples’ nonchalance — monotonous. Although he delivers great rhymes (see: ‘Sundown Town’s one-liner; “Hanging on them corner/ the same as hanging on a ceiling fan”), they have a tendency to muddle together.
But halfway through the record, there’s a sudden tempo shift and Vince suddenly seems more playful. Known for his goofy side that truly shines whenever he’s in front of a camera, it’s great to see it translated into his music, through dry sarcasm and deliberately deadpan deliveries. The zingy bounce of ‘Taking Trips’ is a stand-out highlight on the album for both Vince and Kenny Beats; the first track where Kenny’s signature 808s and zap of futuristic synths cut through. And with charming wit, Vince raps along, dropping killer one-liners (”She only wants me ‘cuz I’m money touched”), as well as dropping some funny ad-libs along the way. ‘Taking Trips’ is another great example of Kenny and Vince’s synergy, previously evident in a viral The Cave freestyle which left everyone calling Kenny “the police” for a month.
They finish up the record with silky hip-hop soul; the stunning ‘Take Me Home’ features the sultry husk of viral Jersey girl Fousheé. From the flicks of guitar strings and Vince’s simple depiction of life on the streets, to the effortlessness of Fousheé’s vocals, it’s a great song for your metaphorical cookouts and summer nights.
It feels like Vince has been around forever in the rap game, and with every contribution he seems to remind the world just why he’s got a cult following. Although he’s never reached the top of the charts like some of his fellow peers (Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and a few other of his Odd Future friends), he expertly delivers gang stories with such authenticity that no wonder he’s still loved in his hometown. With ‘Vince Staples’ Kenny Beats has helped Long Beach’s finest release another spectacular record – even if it’s a slow-burn.
- Release date: July 9
- Release label: Blacksmith Recordings / Motown Records / EMI Records
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