“I’m a real beach boy,” declares Vince Staples in the opening track of his self-titled album. His deadpan delivery, and blunt observations of his troubled upbringing in North Long Beach, California, are set against a hazy, summertime beat.
Disarming contrasts like these permeate much of the rapper’s fourth studio album, which pairs rap producer Kenny Beats’ moody, downbeat production with no-frills storytelling and goofy one-liners (“Fill these voids or fill my bank,” spits Staples later on). Punctuated with interludes of his mum talking about her anger issues, and an old friend recounting a grim story of a party that turns violent, Staples isn’t sugar coating his experiences, but neither is he exalting them.
From the meandering music box melodies of “Trippin” to the pop-tinged “Take Me Home” (featuring TikTok alt-soul singer Fousheé), Staples is intentionally monotonous. Warped samples feel lethargic and far-away, as if looking back at something through a blurred lense. Vince reminiscences on a childhood spent with friends who are now “under the ground”, while at the same time, inviting listeners to “come ride my wave”.
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