Vince Staples – Self-Titled review

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.

Score: 4/5

Vince Staples – “Big Fish Theory” review

Almost 10 months after the release of his Prima Donna EP, Cutthroat Boyz member & Odd Future affiliate Vince Staples is now finally delivering his sophomore full-length album. The album opens up with “Crabs in a Bucket”, where Vince is talking about how he hasn’t let go a lot of problems he’s had as well as comparing the black man to Jesus over a atmospheric & trippy instrumental. Especially with the vocal samples. The next track “Big Fish” sees Vince reflecting on how far he’s come in the rap game over a hyphy beat & the Juicy J hook is fitting as well. The “Alyssa Interlude” has a clip from an Amy Winehouse interview for the first half, but then we hear a verse with Vince reminiscing about a girl who’s most likely died & then it finishes with a perfect Temptations sample. The song “Love Can Be…” with Kilo Kish talks about how Kilo’s done with her ex along with the hoes that want a taste of Vince’s fame over an instrumental that’s PERFECT for the clubs. I also like Vince’s homage to both Alright & For Free? by Kendrick Lamar at the beginning & the end of the final verse respectively. The track “745” has some thunderous yet funky bass throughout & he’s talking about picking up his girl at 7:45 in his BMW 745 along with how love’s really hard for him because all the pretty women he’s gotten with his whole life have lied to him. Also, the Adam & Eve metaphor for all the snakes out there during the bridge hit me. After wondering if people in New York would even know if he existed if he were to be murdered today during the 1 minute “Ramona Park’s Yankee Stadium” interlude, we then get into the next song Yeah Right”. On this song, Vince is asking a bunch of questions & talking about what pretty woman want over a distorted yet abrasive instrumental & the guest verse from Kendrick Lamar doesn’t disappoint either. The track “Homage” talks about how no one can hold him back now that he’s a successful rapper over a high-tempo techno beat. The song “SAMO” talks about how nothing has changed & the production is very eerie. The track “Party People” asks how can Vince enjoy the party when all he see is death & destruction as well as him talking about needing good vibes over a beat that once again is perfect for the clubs. The penultimate track “BagBak” pretty much tells the phonies to back off of him because they don’t know him over a hard hitting hip house beat. The closer “Rain Come Down” talks about some gangsta shit was well as metaphorically comparing a stripper to Etta James over a gritty UK Garage-influenced beat. Even though this album is only 36 minutes long, this could very well be better than his debut Summertime ’06. His takes on love are just as nihilistic as he’s always been (especially with the line on “Yeah Right” about a pretty woman slitting her wrist) & the electronic dance music influenced production brings a fitting atmosphere to the lyrics. To anyone who still hates Vince or even refuses to give him a chance because he said the 90’s were overrated a few months after his debut album came out: I don’t think you can deny that this is his most experimental work yet

Score: 4.5/5