The king of the Norf Side, the midnight marauder of Long Beach, the phantom of rap music; Vince Staples holds a throne on a wide range of sound. His music is always a transposition from the daily life of college students, parents, and athletes which then moves into the mind of a Californian-based artist that holds as many secrets on the track as he does off the track.
With a voice as large as Vince Staples and the ability to conform to different musical styles; his newest project FM! has Staples bringing the radio back to life. He uses different skits in a similar style of his previous release Prima Donna with these multiple breaks in the action and main producer Kenny Beats to bring summer into the cold months ahead. With the cover art that is covered with vibrant waves and the beaches to the choruses that are placed within tracks, FM! feels almost carefree and celebratory.
Having Ty Dolla $ign prepare a chorus that describes “Summertime in the LB, no it ain’t shit a broke nigga gonna tell me now” which then floods into Staples more morose lyrical abilities. “Summertime in the LB wild, we gonna party til the sun or the guns come out… On the concrete real street runner. First month still feel like summer; cold weather won’t stop no gunner. Wrong hat, wrong day, I’d kill my brother” Staples describes through a filtered lens. This has always been the dilemma within Staples’ music. He works the rugged reality of a struggling youth growing up in a destructive environment with the fun and excitement of modern hip-hop production and musical talent that makes pain feel familiar and overlooked.
This pain is shown incredibly well on “Outside!” as the production from Kenny Beats is a banging mess of 808 punches and an introspective look into the burning hell that summertime can bring. “Broad day, I’m round your way, SK, come out let’s play. Draco, that’s a young nigga gun, pull a tre five seven watch young niggas run” Staples explains through this approachable and enthralling production. Not only has this been one of the common reasoning’s behind Staples success, but it could also be his adaptability on musical styles that range from his first works of Shyne Coldchain to his more recent piece Big Fish Theory. Either in the trenches of hip-hop or treading the line on electronic, Staples can do it all.
Understandably, most people that hear Staples have never seen a gun, or had dead friends from violence, or most likely even know what he alludes to in his clever wordplay through each and every track. But there is the silver lining in the way that Vince Staples can make his music approachable, his sound is commercial while holding a rough, teeth-bared vocal performance that can make even the darkest nights seem brighter.