Vince Staples has come a long way in the past couple years. After memorable features on songs, like Earl Sweatshirt's "Hive" and Common's "Kingdom," Staples dropped a very promising EP, Hell Can Wait, in 2014. Recently named a XXL Freshman, the Long Beach rappers' debut full-length album, Summertime '06, is a testament to how far he has already progressed as an artist.
It's cool to see how Vince's hard lyricism skills have developed, getting deeper in his stories, but still to the point. The topics he touches on, like gang culture, drugs and the violence in his community, accompanied with his monotone rap style make for a dismal and threatening persona, but that isn't Vince. He has a high self-awareness of the reality that he lived through and brings it to light in his music for what it is, unlike most gangster rappers who glorify gang banging and the streets as cool. It makes him admirably different than his contemporaries. On the track "Like It Is," Vince shares this on the interlude:
When most people look at a person who does what I do they look at us with these preconceived notions as if, it's a set way for us all to be. But we all people at the end of the day so I wonder why we don't treat each other like it. You're looking at a person telling them that they story don't matter when they're no better than me, walkin' down the streets tryin' to shoot at somebody. Cause all we got is these dreams man and y'all ain't never had to have nothing, and that's the last thing you want from anybody. Is to not really have nothing.
He doesn't think he's above it all because of what he's done in his past years and he applies that thinking to people's perceptions of others in general. Through introspection of his past he showcases that he is culturally aware. "We love our neighborhood, so all my brothers bang the hood / I never vote for presidents, the presidents that changed the hood / Is dead and green, was standin' on this mezzanine in Paris, France / Feel despair cause most my homies never finna get this chance," raps Vince on the track "Lift Me Up." He empathizes for those who come from where he's from and don't see things the way he learned to.
He also speaks on the appropriation of black culture on the track "C.N.B." He says, "Don't shake my hand unless you're passin' payment / Keep your salutations, need my forty acres / Why they hate us? Why they want to rape us for our culture? / They greet us, feed us, bleed us, then they leave us for the vultures."
The two-disc Def Jam debut had me remembering the sound on Hell Can Wait, with the bass heavy and abrasive beats. The 20 tracks owe their production mostly to the acclaimed producer No I.D., as well as Christian Rich, DJ Dahi, Brian Kidd, and Clams Casino. Shoutout Clams for his work on the latest single "Norf Norf." Vince played with what he knows will register with mass appeal listeners on "Señorita" with using a Future sample, but made it his own with Christian Rich.
The album gives it up for the west coast with features from fellow Cutthroat Boyz' A$ton Matthews, Joey Fatts, and L.A. singer Jhené Aiko. Vocalists Desi Mo, Kilo Kish, Snoh Aalegra, Daley, and Haneef Talib also have features on the album.
Vince said in an interview with Stereogum that creating the reference to his summer in 2006 for the album came about from wanting to relate to his current "coming-of-age or a shifting-of-the-guard." He says, "I had to think of a moment in myself that represented the same thing, and it really was the summer of that year. That’s what drove me to pick that title and the narrative. Because I feel it is very easily misunderstood — the music we all make — and if we’re going to be understood, then we have to be as accurate as possible and have the most exact depiction of where we all come from."
He has done just that. Each track has a different element that all work together cohesively to pull us into that summer in Long Beach and what Vince Staples represents. He proves with Summertime '06 that he has undeniably matured as an artist.
For Vince Staples' latest music, news, and tour dates, check out his Zumic Artist Page.