is one of the safest young rappers to bet on right now. The Long Beach rapper has played his career by the books, taking his time and making the rounds only on the tracks he knows he belongs on. Before his first solo mixtape Hell Can Wait
saw release last year, Vince appeared on tracks with Earl Sweatshirt and the Odd Future gang, as well as teaming up with Mac Miller for a collaborative EP. He became a familiar name and piqued interest as he didn't try to clone his partners but brought his sharp, quick flow along with him wherever he went. It's this focus and originality that brought him to be on the XXL Frshman Class of 2015, and brought him here to Summertime '06
, his first studio album.
The two disc record very clearly sets the standard for who Vince Staples is as a musician. While his work as a feature is what is most recognizable, he begins to develop his familiarities into an identifiable and clear identity. His work with Earl has been some of his greatest as the two share a similar broodiness and self-loathsome quality in their tracks; this returns here, but the 22-year-old rapper has come out of his shell to bring the same dark wordplay into a spot where his clever rhetoric isn't overlooked.
immediately lets us know where we're at. The intro track kicks off with an unsatisfied bass over the sound of seagulls, the shore and a gunshot that will scare you if you're not ready for it (for real, be careful). The scene of the album is Staples' home of Long Beach, California; not afraid to show his neighborhood's troubles, Vince's themes focus around his street life and each story is backed by some seriously powerful production at the hands of Def Jam executive No I.D. for him to glide over.
There's a duality here, Staples boasts a hood pride and wants the world to know the reality of his past but at the same time recognizes its fault and pleads for change. "Lift Me Up" doesn't shy away from revealing just how dark Vince can be, but it also hosts a certain spirituality that keeps the recording from sounding like he's showing off. Tough beats and hard hitting grooves come in different varieties. Industrial beats and open vocals help for the drug-dealing anthem sound of "Dopeman," and "Street Punks" touches on the trap song formula but Vince's brilliant wordplay and consistent flow keep it from sounding simple or too familiar.
At times the album may not seem to be all that varied with hard street track after hood banger, and the subject matter truthfully doesn't stray far from just that. However, the young wordsmith presents different sides to his notions. He boasts about his street cred but then immediately comments on the uselessness of that whole mentality. He will speak on how the streets are ran by the people but then criticizes the ineffectiveness of the justice system and advocates for change. Underneath the trill beats is an intelligent album with substantial material. "Summertime" also offers itself as a lapse in the hood mentality and is a refreshing segway to the second cd, a genuine love song that still has the clanky sound of the album but smooths it out with some soft vocals.
This break in the album repeats itself occasionally and each time it feels like just the right moment. The album is very complete, with well rounded themes and a unified sound. Vince Staples has taken his time with this album and it shows; this was his chance to fully introduce himself as a solo act and he nailed it. Summertime '06
keeps what it is that people know about Vince, the sound that brought listeners to him in the first place, but develops it into a well tuned identity... one that most certainly will keep coming up.