Album Review | Vince Staples

This album was released on July 9th this year. I first became a fan of Vince Staples in 2013 when he released his collaborative mixtape with Larry Fisherman, Stolen Youth. That’s still my favorite project from him, but I feel like he can surpass it some day. With that said, it’s gonna be hard to top a lot of the beats that Mac gave Vince, but I digress. This latest self album is pretty exciting for me. I think the cover art is dope as hell, and the fact that it’s self titled makes me feel like he’s not gonna be fucking around this time. I have seen some kind of lukewarm reception for this project, which does worry me a little bit. Maybe I should be more clear; I’m not expecting this to be one of the best albums of the year, or even one of Vince Staples’ best projects. I do think that there will be at least some material that I love here though, especially since I dug the first single. This album is almost entirely produced by Kenny Beats, who I’m not crazy about, but I think he’s a competent producer. I think this album’s gonna be dope.

I’m just gonna write about the full project in the proper order of the track list. The first song on this album is entitled ARE YOU WITH THAT?

This was the second single from this album, but I hadn’t heard it prior to listening to the full project. I actually really like the light, floaty, melodic production from Kenny Beats here. I think Vince’s melodic delivery on this track sounds really good too. The first verse from Vince has a really nice flow, and I like how dark the lyricism is.

Nigga better hush, remember growin' up
All I wanted was to be a thug
Wanted me a plug, to get a lil bread
Shoot a couple niggas in the head

The hook is really catchy too; I love it. The second verse is even better to me than the first one was in my opinion. Vince’s somber delivery along with the grim lyricism makes it a profoundly sad performance.

Whenever I miss those days
Visit my Crips that lay
Under the ground, runnin' around
We was them kids that played
All in the street, followin' leads
Of niggas who lost they ways
Some of them outside still
Some of them inside graves

I honestly think this is a beautifully written song. It’s dope as hell to me. It’s followed by the album’s lead single, LAW OF AVERAGES.

I really love the melodic, wavy production here from Jacob Reske, and I think Vince Staples’ lowkey, reserved delivery sounds really good over it. The content of this song isn’t particularly interesting to me, but I think it was well-executed.

Fuck a friend, I don't want no friends with no open hands
Count my bands, all alone at home, don't you call my phone
Everyone that I've ever known asked me for a loan

There are two verses on this track, and both of them are about 8 bars long. They don’t stand out that much, but his flow is nice, and I like how violent the closing lines of each verse are. The hook isn’t really anything special to me, but I do like the song overall. The real selling point is mainly the production for me to be honest. I think the beat is dope as hell. As a whole, I think the song is pretty good, although not one of my favorites from the album. Track 3 is entitled SUNDOWN TOWN, and it has another really nice, melodic instrumental. I love the first verse on this track too. Vince’s flow was really smooth. The second verse is even better.

I don't fear no man, only Allah got the upper hand
Lost too many friends, to the down the streets, I can't pretend
That I'll make amends, I know that the blood gon' spill again
Hangin' on them corners, same as hangin' from a ceiling fan
When I see my fans, I'm too paranoid to shake they hands
Clutchin' on the blam, don't know if you foe or if you fam
I don't got a plan, I'm just out here thuggin' 'til the end
Niggas know I'll never fold or bend

I just wish this song was longer to be honest. I wanted Vince to keep rapping. I also don’t really feel like the simplistic hook adds very much to the song. However, the rapping here is too good for me to not love this track. I think it’s dope. Same goes for the following track, THE SHINING.

This track has one of my favorite beats on the album. The rapping from Vince here is great too. I don’t think the lyricism is anything special to be honest, but his flow on both of the verses is just really nice. I think this track has one of the better hooks up to this point on the album as well. I fuck with this track more sonically than lyrically. Not that the lyrics are bad. They just don’t stand out to me that much. The song is dope overall though. The next track is entitled TAKING TRIPS.

This track has one of the more upbeat instrumentals on the album. I think it’s a dope beat. Shoutout to Monte Booker for co-producing it. The simplistic hook on this track is pretty cool. I think Vince’s performance here is just okay. His flow was cool, but there weren’t really any lyrics that stood out to me. Just like with the preceding track, I enjoy this more sonically than lyrically. It’s a cool, chill song. It’s far from the most memorable moment on the album, but I do enjoy it to some extent. It’s pretty good. It’s followed by an interlude entitled THE APPLE & THE TREE. This interlude kinda reminds me of MOMMA TALK from the latest Tyler the Creator album. It’s just audio of Vince’s mother describing a situation in which she had to commit perjury in order to prevent her husband from being incarcerated. I think the instrumental in the background is kinda cool, but aside from that I didn’t get much enjoyment out of this track. It’s fine though. I’m not gonna pretend to have a huge issue with this track being here. The next actual song is called TAKE ME HOME, and it features an artist I’d never heard of before named Fousheé.

This one has a pretty nice instrumental, although it’s not one of my favorites. I think the opening verse from Vince here is great.

I don't wanna die but I will for the cause
Swallowing my pride, like them pills y'all be on
I hate when you high but you hate feeling lost
I hate every time that you ask "Can we talk?"
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

It’s a lot more interesting to me than anything he was saying on the preceding few tracks. The sung hook from Fousheé is really sweet & Pop-adjacent. I’m not really crazy about it, but it’s not particularly bad to me. It kinda grew on me over time. I think she sang well, and her outro here is nice. The main appeal of this track is just Vince’s rapping for me, but the beat is cool too, and the hook is okay. I think it’s a good track. Track 8 is called LIL FADE.

This one has a pretty strange beat to me. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it at first, but it grew on me after a few listens. The melody just kinda threw me off for whatever reason. It’s a cool beat though. Neither of the verses are really anything special to me from a lyrical standpoint, but I suppose the rhymes were on point. I just noticed that the lyrics kinda went in one ear and out the other for me. I like the hook on this track though. It’s far from one of my favorite tracks on the album, but I do enjoy it to some extent. I think it’s pretty solid. The penultimate song is entitled LAKEWOOD MALL. This is another interlude in which someone is speaking over a nice instrumental. I actually like this interlude slightly more than THE APPLE & THE TREE just because the instrumental in the background is more entertaining. I actually can see myself listening to this track again. I think it’s a pretty good interlude. The final song is entitled MHM.

I think the beat here is pretty good; I like how lighthearted and fun it sounds. The first verse is pretty cool. Again, the lyricism isn’t super intriguing to me, but his flow and rhymes were nice. I liked that line about how you have to know the glitches to make it in the game. That was a cool line. I also think this track has one of the catchiest hooks on the album. It’s really good. The second verse on this track is really dope. I love the lines where he says he was washing his hands and wearing masks before COVID-19. That was hard. Overall, I think this is one of the better songs on the album to be honest. I don’t have any issues with it. I think it’s dope.

This is a good album. It’s honestly about as good as I was expecting it to be. Overall, this album has a very toned down, kind of lowkey atmosphere. Vince’s delivery is very reserved, and the melodic, R&B-tinged production fits it very well. Vince is at his best when he’s lamenting over fucked up street tragedies, and I would have liked more of that on this record. I prefer Vince when he’s rapping about serious shit, but the more fun moments on this album were still enjoyable for me. I don’t really see why any fans of Vince would be disappointed with this project. I think it fits in well with the rest of his discography. This is my favorite project he’s dropped since Summertime ’06. He’s apparently supposed to be dropping another album later this year entitled Ramona Park Broke My Heart, so hopefully that continues the upward-trend when it comes to the quality of his releases. I think this shit is dope. Check it out.

Favorite Song: ARE YOU WITH THAT?
Least Favorite Song: LIL FADE


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: B-


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