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Vince Staples

by Vince Staples

Released July 9, 2021 via Motown Records / Blacksmith Records

Reviewed July 19, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)

The self-titled album is a crucial juncture in any musical career. One can surmise that these projects are significant in the eye of the artists, and Vince Staples lives up to that assumption. His fourth studio album brings a refined attention to detail in a very digestible 10-song package. Commentary on fake friends and relationships are beautifully expressed with simple melodies and airy beats, all while Vince maintains a confident and content composure on each track. While lyrically, straight-to-the-point metaphors and effectively-used one liners construct Vince’s concepts. This album proves that Staples is still one of the best doing it, without any extra drama. – Daniel (8.5/10)

It was only late 2019 when Vince Staples appeared to be rolling out some radio-ready tunes ("Sheet Music," "So What") for a sort of episodic show and/or album called The Vince Staples Show. The "show" appeared to be a double-down on the bouncy, energetic feel of FM!, Vince's 2018 album with brand name producer Kenny Beats. Instead, fans are blessed with yet another mood piece by the same rapper-producer combo that completely flips the script of its original. Where FM! was a rapidly shifting, colorful celebration of summer (specifically summer in LA), the follow-up is a complete subversion of this concept. Instrumentally, the album feels summer-ready yet again; however, Kenny's beats are sweltering in the heat this time around, instead of feeding off of it. Lyrically, Vince is noticeably critical of the summer, noting the paranoia surrounding the seasonal uptick of violence and its triggers related to his upbringing. In general, Vince portrays himself as reflective, weary, and anxious in a way he hasn't sounded quite since the days of Summertime '06. In the end, Vince and Kenny come across as low-stakes players on their second brainchild, risking rather little and performing well. The album’s tone likely comes as a surprise to the sector of Vince’s fanbase who routinely praise his most daring and “experimental” tendencies, Big Fish Theory seems to be Vince’s crown jewel in their eyes. There’s very little to truly complain about in Vince Staples. Vince is staying sharp while Kenny remains smooth, putting forth an album in Vince’s discography that invites yet another crowd to listen. – DeVán (7.5/10)

Vince Staples has steadily been ahead of the curve. With his 2017 LP Big Fish Theory he promoted SOPHIE production before hyperpop’s sudden, meteoric popularisation. Meanwhile, 2018’s FM! managed to execute a straightforward return to form. Vince Staples is a continuation of the rapper’s short but sweet style, showcasing some minute moments of exploration in vocal melodies and instrumental curation alongside Kenny Beats. Opener “ARE YOU WITH THAT?” has a neat refrain over hushed synth-pads and pitched sample-snippets akin to a James Blake record. While Vince doesn’t elaborate on this teased vocal style, the distorted yet subtle pre-recordings beautifully meshing with simplistic drums is the crutch of this album, for better or for worse. Despite its catchiness, Vince Staples feels incomplete and structurally unsound; it’s more half of an album than the next entry into an artist’s core discography, especially with the expectations that a self-titled record carries. – Cam (6.5/10)

Daniel: 8.5/10 | Pax: 8/10 | Alan: 7.6/10 | DeVán: 7.4/10

Dominick: 7/10 | Hadley: 5.5/10 | Ben (Synth): 5/10


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