Vince Staples is everywhere. Since 2018’s FM! he’s appeared on TV, movies, cartoons and YouTube skits. Yet, surprisingly there hasn’t been much music during this stretch. Vince Staples, the brief, but inspired, LP makes up for this tenfold. Without skipping a beat, the Long Beach rapper falls back in line with a though provoking piece of work, one featuring the moodiest version of himself yet. While the runtime is short, Vince and producer Kenny Beats manage to sketch a dense picture. The Vince presented here is subdued and reflective and the beats compliment that sentiment. Staples has undoubtedly found a choice pairing with Kenny Beats for this risky detour. The muted, ghoulish production creates distinct pockets for Staples to weave in and out of. The peaks and valleys of Vince Staples is a refreshing new angle from an emcee at a career high.
Themes of violence, regret and yearning are shuffled between “blink and you’ll miss it” wordplay. Vince laments on death on “Law of Averages”, “Raging Bull, this ain’t Paid in Full but I kill my own.” The painful vocals drop in right after this, lifting the listener out of the thematic low in the same breath. The juxtaposition of this older, quieter Vince to the dimly lit, but spacious harmonies make a wonderful combination. Confident kicks and bass drops accent these sparks of brilliance on “Sundown Town”, “Till I make amends, I know that the blood gon’ spill again / Hangin’ on them corners same as hangin’ from a ceiling fan.” The stuttered instrumentals are ever contemplative in the background. Even more so, Vince is raw as ever. This blend comes to a fever pitch on “Take Me Home feat. Fousheé”. Here, the personal stakes are high, “Tell me what I did now, drying off your tears now / Fighting for some years now, something gotta give / I don’t wanna rebound, I just wanna sleep sound / Don’t wanna dream ’bout the shit I done did.” Thematically we’re miles away from “We just wanna have fun” from FM!’s aptly titled “Fun!”.
Vince Staples is a long-awaited diary entry from rap’s wittiest personality. It’s interesting to see an artist known for festival anthems tighten the lens a considerable amount. The subdued production takes a while to appreciate, but eventually fits like a glove with the sentiment of the record. Vince isn’t out to impress anyone; he simply wants peace of mind.