Review: Summertime ’06 by Vince Staples
The debut full-lengther by Long Beach, California native, Vince Staples, is quite simply a stunner. With production more or less overseen by Def Jam hit maker, Dion “No I.D.” Wilson, labels, critics and fans are putting Staples on a pedestal. Thankfully here he chants, “On three let’s jump off the roof,” and very quickly he is back down in the thick, steamy streets of California and challenging any sense of heroism. Or to put it more simply, “I’m a gangster Crip/Fuck gangster rap.”
Staples might have tales of the street that could quite easily see him as one of Nas’ many and never-as-successful successors, but Staples is able to distil his persona into something entirely different. He spits his biography all over this record, particularly in standout track, Norf Norf, but it’s so localised that it feels like a neighbourhood rather than the city sprawl of Nas’ New York State of Mind. This album is a double with some twenty tracks split in two, but Staples still seems to make it feel claustrophobic. There are whole stories about family, streets and prisons and the beats and the intensity keep closing in.
Staples has the kind of flow most MC’s dream of – he’s smooth but aggressive. That goes for his lyrics too, in that he is staunch but deep and it’s this combination that makes this record so good. He hints at worrying about fame and acceptance on Lift Me Up, “See, this weight is on my shoulders, pray Jehovah lift me up/And my pain is never over, pills and potions fix me up/I just want to live it up, can a motherfucker breath?” Hopefully this doesn’t drown him, so we can get a stack more from Staples.