Vince Staples: Summertime '06 review – idiosyncratic, impressive solo rap effort

(Universal)

There’s a moment in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ forthcoming book about race in America when he recalls realising how dangerous his upbringing in West Baltimore was, compared to that of the children he saw on TV “who did not regularly fear for their bodies”. Vince Staples’ debut album paints a world that is definitely in the former camp. Brooding, menacing and unnerving, it’s a myopic, unflinching look at life around his Long Beach locale. Starting with the eerie, Morriconesque instrumental Ramona Park Legend, Staples slowly pulls back the blinds on his world with 20 vignettes that cover everything from racial profiling (Lift Me Up) and drug dealing (Dopeman) to angsty nihilism (Jump Off the Roof) and making money (Get Paid). Two tracks stand out above the rest: Summertime is the antithesis of Will Smith’s hit as Staples raps, “I hope you understand they never taught me how to be a man”; and Surf, which changes the pace with sub-low bass sitting underneath a soca-style beat. In a year of impressive solo rap albums, Staples has managed to create one that’s arguably the most idiosyncratic of the lot.

Contributor

Lanre Bakare

The GuardianTramp

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