Album Review: Vince Staples – Vince Staples

– blkcory 

I’ll be real, I’ve wanted to talk about this album ever since it came out but I wanted to give some of you time to get to this one first. Vince Staples is one of those rappers where if you really check for his music, you know what time it is anytime he drops something. If you don’t, you never quite get it. Those of you that don’t check for him need to check this one out. I’m going to just give my review out the gate here and tell you right now, I think this is his best album since Summertime ‘06. If you’ve never bothered to listen to Vince’s music or somehow never caught the jokes he says on social media, I’m here to tell you right now, there is still time to become a Vince Staples fan. This self-titled album is that time. Without further adieu, here is the day four review of the Vince Staples album. 

ARE YOU WITH THAT?

Great intro by Vince man! It sets the tone immediately for the feel you’ll get from the rest of the album. Not too upbeat, but not too mellow either. The production and delivery might sound calm but the content of what he’s saying is anything but that. Essentially the man’s saying the block is hot, watch yourself outside. Are you really bout that action, because they do hop-outs* where I’m from nahmsayin*? 

LAW OF AVERAGES

This is a Vince Staples single ladies and gents. It might not be your typical commercial radio play song, but who really listens to radio now anyways? Tell me this doesn’t fit in one of your playlists or can’t be in rotation somewhere (it’s cool, I’ll wait). If you really pay close attention to the song, you’ll realize the content is dark but its so reflective of our society. 

“Yes, I love you ’cause you Black, but don’t love your ass like that
I will put you on a shirt if you f*ck me out my racks”. 

That’s the reality of life outside, people die for less everyday. Leave a gangsta to his money. 

SUNDOWN TOWN

This is one of my favoruite songs on the album. It sounds like a sunset for real. Pick an activity and tell me this song doesn’t feel like whatever you were doing when you looked at the horizon and saw the sun setting. Flip side of this record is like a lot of the other themes on album, Vince lets you know the reality of what it takes to survive the streets and the mindstate of the people out there. He sums it all up best in the first bar of the song:

“I can die tonight, so today, I’m finna go get paid”. 

THE SHINING

“We die broke or live with broken hearts”.

At this point you notice easily the themes and production of these songs just flow together. One song after the other you’re brought into Vince Staples world which for all the jokes he makes online, is actually full of a lot of violence and sadness. The Shining might be an appropriate title because like Jack Nicholson in the horror movie, Staples might be giving us insight into how his violent past might also have him losing his sanity in this crazy world we live in. 

TAKING TRIPS

This track slaps man. I really want to say more but driving around playing this with the squad is a real vibe. It’s almost like the preview track you can play before you link up with the crew and get yourselves into a situation. You know one of dem ones* right? The song’s interlude breaks down the overall concept of the song in a way that’s similar to Kendrick’s The Art of Peer Pressure

“I knew very well that I was supposed to go straight home from school. I just couldn’t refuse. I knew I was doing the wrong thing. But I guess it was more important to be accepted by the guys than anything else”.

THE APPLE & THE TREE

This interlude really adds to theme of the world Vince Staples grew up in that made him who he is. The interlude appears to be an audio clip of his mother retelling the story of lying on the stand so his dad wouldn’t go to jail for shooting someone. She even went to look for the person who had Vince’s father convicted of attempted murder. She goes on to say at the end of the interlude:

“You know I was singing in the choir with a gun in my purse
So don’t go there with me”

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

TAKE ME HOME

This song is incredible. From the delivery of the verses and the Kenny Beats production, to the way Fousheé sung the hook, everything was executed perfectly. This is a perfect song to me. Couldn’t change anything about it. This is definitely a song I’d love to hear performed in concert with a live band. I think that experience would be something special. 

“When I hit the set, its loaded; I don’t know who envy me
I’m the only one who made it out – you remember me?
Is you a frenemy? You plan on killing me?”

LIL FADE

Fam this beat kicked in and I was like grab me a skateboard and let me just ride that thing down the street. I don’t even skateboard but I was really about to do a heelflip*. This song wasn’t even made for skateboarders but whatever man. Grab your tech deck* from when you were a kid and do one of dem tricks you saw on Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3* because this track is a banger. The song sounds like a peaceful walk down the park but the man is literally saying, “lil fade, trippin’ get ya whip sprayed”. It’s all violence and I’m from the northside of my city so you already know: 

“northside with it, so of course, I’m with it”.

LAKEWOOD MALL

This interlude is a story told by someone that appears to know Vince and retells the story of buying a gun outside a McDonald’s by Lakewood Mall, getting pull over by police affer he got rid of it and how the day’s activities essentially led to a shooting outside a party that Vince chose not to attend because he was thinking ahead. That’s the best way to sum this one up. 

Its another example that gives us insight into the environment Vince Staples grew up in as a gang member and helps the audience understand how quickly things can go left where he’s from. 

MHM

Listen, I’m big on the importance of intros and outros on any album. This is hands down my favourite Vince Staples outro. I want to say there’s a close second, there isn’t. This is definitely it. He sounds so comfortable and is showing out with one of the catchier hooks in his discography. The song ends with him outlining his hood, a tribute to the place he’s always known and the area that raised him. 

To me, this is Vince’s most cohesive (I know people hate this buzzword) body of work to date. The entire album flows together so seamlessly and makes for a really good listening experience. It’s a shorter album but in this case, that means not a single bar is wasted. What’s crazy about this album to me is that Vince already doesn’t sound like anyone else rapping right now and this album still sounds different from anything else he’s ever put out. Him locking-in* with Kenny Beats was one of the best decisions he’d made from a production standpoint and might have made it easier for him to focus on a specific theme and bring it to life in the music. I don’t think there’s any misses on this album and currently it should be in your mix for top hip-hop albums of the year. It’s just that good. 

Glossary:

Hop-outs when you confront your enemy, hop out the car and shoot at them (literally, not figurative speaking)

Nahmsayin – do you understand, do you feel me?

One of Dem Onesone of those ones

Tech Deck – finger skateboards that kids used to think they were cool (they were cool)

Heelflip – a skateboard move I used to make character’s do in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 – a game that shows you how old I am because I’m talking about it in 2021
Locking-into work with someone or something/ to focus

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