In my opinion, Vince Staples has been one of the more underrated rappers to emerge in the early 2010s. He has seen a good amount of success in his career, but he never quite got to the level of some of the counterparts he came up with. Vince Staples originally became popular through a series of collaborations with the A$AP Mob and Odd Future right when members of those groups were starting to make names for themselves. He also saw success due to receiving production on some of his early music by Mac Miller, including his critically acclaimed mixtape Stolen Youth which was produced entirely by Mac. Since then, he has come out with many projects that are beloved by Hip Hop heads, but he has never had that mainstream breakthrough. He has never held himself back in order to incorporate more of a Pop sound, and his music has always been unapologetically his own. Vince Staples’ latest project, Vince Staples, is his second record in a row primarily produced by Kenny Beats. Their first collaboration, FM!, was one of the best Hip Hop projects of 2018(which is saying something as this was an excellent year for music), as Vince and Kenny’s styles mesh super well. With that being said, here is my review of Vince Staples’ new album Vince Staples. Please let me know in the comments below if you enjoy this record, and also let me know in the comments what your favorite songs are from Vince Staples.
Vince Staples gets started with a vibrant and boisterous track called ‘ARE YOU WITH THAT?’ This one has a colorful and bright instrumental that is bound to bring anyone’s mood up. It sort of reminds me of some of the music from Mac Miller’s album Circles. The Jazz-Pop melody drowned in reverb is so buzzy and sweet and it fits Vince Staples’ delivery well. His voice and flow sound so natural on this instrumental; overall this track is very well put together. On ‘ARE YOU WITH THAT?’ Vince Staples is acknowledging his success while remembering where he came from. Even though he is a successful artist now, he still goes back to the hood to hang out with his former gang. Following this. We get ‘LAW OF AVERAGES.’ This track has a very unique and quirky instrumental; it sort of has a 90s Alternative Jazz Hip Hop sound mixed with a Gospel Trap sound. It equally reminds me of A Tribe Called Quest and Chance the Rapper. Once again, Vince sounds natural rapping on this track. The calm nature of the song makes his flow and vocal style pop. On ‘LAW OF AVERAGES,’ Vince is talking about how all the wealth he has earned up to this point is solely his and he has no desire to give out handouts to people from his past who want them. Vince has worked hard to get to where he is, and he isn’t going to give away what he worked for free. ‘SUNDOWN TOWN’ has a simple and subtle feeling to it compared to the two tracks that precede it. This song has a very smooth and easy-going instrumental that has a major old-school West Coast feeling to it. This track reminds me a lot of late 90s/ early 2000s Bay Area artists like Mac Dre and Andre Nickatina. Once again. Vince’s flow on this song sounds so silky and effortless; it fits the instrumental super well. On ‘SUNDOWN TOWN,’ Vince Staples is talking about his gang banging days and his much of a savage he used to be. It is interesting to hear him rap about such serious and tough topics in such a nonchalant and easy-going manner. It creates a very interesting juxtaposition in this song.
‘THE SHINING’ is a song with a sound that is unlike anything from this record so far. It does have a calm and slow tempo that’s sort of equivalent to the songs that precede it, but that is where the similarities end. This track has a melodic Trap sound with a strange lullaby-style melody. It reminds me a lot of some of the more experimental instrumentals from the collaborations by Metro Boomin and 21 Savage. Vince Staples raps with a laid-back and eerie flow that works perfectly on ‘THE SHINING.’ If you enjoy songs like ‘Mr. Right Now’ and ’10 Freaky Girls’ by 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, you should be into this song. Following this, we get ‘TAKING TRIPS.’ It is another track with a psychedelic West Coast Trap sound to it. It also has a quirky and out of of the box Bay Area feeling to it. This track is so easy-going and smooth; it is perfect for any dome sesh or burn cruise. On ‘TAKING TRIPS,’ Vince Staples is once again rapping about how his hood is not somewhere people would want to mess around. It is full of violent savages and is unsafe. Even though he knew gang banging wasn’t the best thing to do, he knew if he didn’t do it he’d probably be dead anyway. ‘THE APPLE AND THE TREE’ is the first of two interludes from this record. On this one, a woman is telling a story of why you shouldn’t mess with her. She asserts that she always has a gun on her, including while singing in the choir. She also explains that if you piss her off, she will try to come find you in a blind rage. This interlude shows that the people from Vince Staples’ neighborhood are not the ones to mess with. If you’re going to hang out in his hood, you better be strapped and ready to fight at all times.
‘TAKE ME HOME,’ which features Fousheé, is yet another song with a sound that is different from anything else on the record. This track has a smooth Jazzy R&B melody and tempo to it. It is very reminiscent of some of the Neo-Soul music that was popular in the late 1990s. On ‘TAKE ME HOME,’ Vince Staples once again proves he can excel at rapping on any kind of instrumental, as his slick voice and flow glide so effortlessly on the song. The Fousheè feature fits in very well with the song too; her vocals remind me a lot of SZA on this song. On ‘TAKE ME HOME,’ Vince is rapping about a failed relationship and how hanging around his hood reminds him of her. He goes back to where he grew up to clear his mind and think about simpler times, but everywhere he goes makes him think of her. Out of all the music on the record, ‘LIL FADE’ probably has the most modern Trap production. It sounds like something DJ Luke Nasty, K Camp or even the Migos would love to rap on. I would love to hear one of those artists hop on a remix for this song. On ‘LIL FADE,’ Vince is rapping about how is good is not a place to mess around. If you go in there unprotected and are not aware of your surroundings, you could very well end up in the dirt. ‘LAKEWOOD MALL’ is the second little interlude from this record. This one consists of some narrator telling a few stories of growing up on Vince Staples’ block, like when the police searched his car out of nowhere and people getting jumped and robbed. Vince wants the listeners to know that it is not safe to hang out in this neighborhood without protection and without thinking ahead. Vince Staples closes out with the song ‘MHM,’ another song with an old-school Bay Area West Coast sound that is very smooth and easy going. This is the perfect kind of song to listen to when driving around with the windows down on a summer night while smoking with friends. This is yet another track where Vince describes the kinds of scenarios he used to get into growing up and how his crew were not the people to mess with. Sonically and lyrically, ‘MHM’ is an excellent way to close out this record.
Vince Staples is an artist who knows exactly who he is and what he is good at. He has figured out what kinds of instrumentals work with his vocal style and flows, and he knows how to take advantage of the things that make him pop. That is why there isn’t a bad song on Vince Staples. I wouldn’t say there is any life-changing or transcending music on this record, but that is ok. Overall, Vince Staples is a great Hip Hop record with a lot of old-school West Coast influence mixed into modern laid-back Trap music. It is another awesome piece of music put out by Vince Staples, proving once again he is one of the most talented and underrated artists of his generation.