Vince Staples

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
Summertime '06 (2015), 7.5/10
Big Fish Theory (2017), 5/10

Following the mixtapes Shyne Coldchain (2011) and and Shyne Coldchain vol 2 (2014), Los Angeles' rapper Vince Staples debuted with a much-hyped EP, Hell Can Wait (2014). The highlights of the EP are the arrangements: the nocturnal jazz atmosphere of 65 Hunnid, crafted by Marco "Infamous" Rodriguez-Diaz, the synth-tinged Blue Suede, produced by Marvin "Hagler" Thomas, the bombastic Fire, Screen Door.

The double album Summertime '06 (2015), architected by Dion "No ID" Wilson, Dacoury "DJ Dahi" Natche and Michael "Clams Casino" Volpe, is a vast claustrophobic fresco of dangerous living. The 21-year-old rapper unleashed stoic autobiographical narratives within productions that evoked a terrified state of mind. The visceral documentary Lift me Up is quintessential Staples, as is the musically uneventful Norf Norf, produced by Clams Casino. The sound art combines with his tragic declamation to shape the threatening atmosphere of Senorita, produced by Christian Rich. The fractured epileptic Afrobeat of Get Paid, produced by No ID, the agonizing industrial metronome of Like it is, even the comic beat of Surf are designed to maximize tension. The atonal Street Punks (wrapped in a subsonic ambience reminiscent of the Residents), is the other side of the syrupy and almost operatic Might be Wrong, as they both serve the same psychological purpose from opposite directions. Staples is not alone: the producers add the whispered female vocals (that sound more sinister than sensual) over the swampy beat of Dopeman, multiple counterpoints in the limping rigmarole of Lemme Know, and screaming tribal women in the wild African dance of Jump Off The Roof. If Coldest Nigga Breathing is a piano-based shuffle that sounds like a sarcastic take on lounge music, the percussive cannibal pow-wow orgy of 3230 leaves no doubt about the mood of the juveline delinquent.

In between album Staples released the suicide-centered EP Prima Donna (2016).

Big Fish Theory (2017), a brief album full of half-baked songs, probably rushed to capitalize on the success of the debut, adopted a more electronic and metallic sound, marketed as "futuristic" (but ironically reminiscent of the two-step productions of 20 years earlier). The songs are far less varied than the ones on the debut. The fast-moving Crabs in a Bucket and the elastic dance Party People try to inject some life in a music that is rarely adventurous. Yeah Right is the notable exception. Big Fish discovers the power of subliminal syncopation and Rain Come Down discovers the power of senseless iteration.

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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