RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART

by Vince Staples

Released April 8, 2022 via Motown Records / Blacksmith Records

Reviewed April 18, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
WHEN SPARKS FLY (63%), AYE! (FREE THE HOMIES) (47%), MAGIC (33%)

Vince Staples might be one of the most underappreciated artists of his era. He has consistently put out high-quality, conceptual albums that vastly vary in style. He stays true to his roots to create his metaphorical “discography tree,” but each branch or album is slightly different. Staples keeps his subject matter within his comfort zone, with themes telling a different story. Following his self-titled release, RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART is yet another breath of fresh air. This album has grooves, flows, and embodies the Californian artist's persona. Only Vince could put together a smooth ass tape about city violence, freeing his homies in jail, and loving his mother. “Magic” lets us know that he wasn’t supposed to be here and thriving. The album picks up the pace with “Slide” into “Papercuts.” This is the point where my head was nodding, and I was throwing away my red clothing. I don’t have anything negative to say about this tape, Vince Staples delivered another well-thought-out album that has earned more playtime in my rotation. – Daniel (8/10)


Vince Staples’ fifth studio album serves to remind fans he’s not an entirely “good” guy, and most certainly didn’t come from a “nice” place. RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART further elaborates sentiments felt on his self-titled album, diving more critically into his current capacity for platonic, familial, and romantic relationships. Each of these relationships is seen through the lens of Vince’s gangbanging past, as well as his current fortune and fame, where love and trust are extremely hard to come by. To further illuminate some dysfunction in Vince’s ability to form love and trust, he emphasizes the cold and aloof attitude it took to survive to this point. Whether the rhyme goes about dead opposition, a “dumb bitch” or a “stupid hoe,” Staples’ dismissiveness feels intentionally consistent. While not all of this is painting Vince in the absolute best light, it is a fairly open and vulnerable depiction of himself, which is to be applauded. Musically, Vince Staples grabs beats from a variety of California producers, including Mustard, Cardo, DJ Dahi, and Kenny Beats, among others. Despite its fairly serious message, RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART is lively, vibrant, and danceable underneath. – DeVán (8/10)

Ramona Park broke Vince Staples’ heart, which seems to have taken a bite out of the Long Beach rapper’s creativity as well. Once one of hip-hop’s brightest young stars, RPBMH is the latest in a string of projects with unrealized potential. A staple (no pun intended, originally) of the West Coast’s modern scene, Vince Staples has always come through with a sound that was reminiscent of his predecessors, but it used to be attached to a certain bravado that was unique to him. He found influence in a number of styles from G-funk and gangsta rap to hyphy—and even more avant-garde takes on rap with 2017’s Big Fish Theory—but possessed a level of charisma and storytelling ability that could range from anywhere from vibrant and infectious to grim and menacing. The varied selection of beats isn’t entirely lost, as RPBMH offers a pleasant mixture of atmospheric, almost-R&B-influenced production and different variations of trap and hyphy-inspired selections. But what does seem to be lost, or at least lacking, is the hunger that Staples once had. The songwriting falls short on nearly all fronts; pulling back on both exciting bars and engaging storytelling, while failing to deliver on meandering hooks, Staples seems content on letting the production do the heavy lifting. And with a delivery that is best described as drowsy, there is little to be found in Staples’ latest beyond some chill background music. – Dominick (6/10)


Hadley: 8.5/10 | Daniel: 8/10 | DeVán: 8/10 | Pablo: 8/10 | Pax: 7.6/10

Cam: 7.5/10 | Jacques: 7.5/10 | Jared: 6.5/10 | Dominick: 6/10