This is eponymous 3rd full-length album from Compton rapper, singer, songwriter & actor Vince Staples. Coming up as a close affiliate of the now defunct Odd Future crew, he would go on to release 4 mixtapes before signing a joint deal with Blacksmith Records & even No I.D.’s very own Def Jam Recordings imprint ARTium Recordings. My personal favorite of which being Stolen Youth, which was entirely produced by the late Mac Miller. His first major label outing Hell Can Wait was a dope little EP preluding the full-length debut Summertime ‘06, which became one of the best double disc albums of the previous decade. Vince later detailed the pitfalls that came with his success on the next EP Prima Donna, but the dude’s last album Big Fish Theory was unquestionably his most experimental work yet. But ever since linking up with Kenny Beats at the tail-end of 2018 for the radio show-themed EP FM!, we’ve heard very little from Vince. So given the 3 year gap & him jumping ship from Def Jam to Motown Records, to say I was excited for him to finally make a comeback is an understatement.
“Are You With That?” kicks things off with a wonky trap instrumental from Kenny Beats (who produced the whole album start to finish) & Vince saying all he wanted was to be a thug growing up whereas “Laws of Averages” is much more slower in terms of production with lyrics about how “I don’t trust no bitch with my government”. Vince jumps on top of a slowed down sample on “Sundown Town” to talk about running wild before taking things into a murky trap direction for “The Shining”.
Meanwhile on “Taking Trips”, we go into more psychedelic territory for Vince to bug out over leading into an interlude entitled “The Apple & The Tree”. He later expresses homesickness with the R&B flavored “Take Me Home” while the penultimate song “Lil Fade” serves as a symphonic ode to all his homies in the pen. After the “Lakewood Mall” interlude, the closer “MHM” works in some synths & rubbery bass to spit that gangsta shit.
For the 3-year wait, I think this self-titled joint was well worth it. Wish it was longer than 22 minutes, but Vince takes through events in his life that he’s never put out there before & he sounds a lot better with Kenny Beats than he did on FM!. Looking forward to hear what route he takes for Ramona Park Broke My Heart.