Vince Staples––𝙍𝘼𝙈𝙊𝙉𝘼 𝙋𝘼𝙍𝙆 𝘽𝙍𝙊𝙆𝙀 𝙈𝙔 𝙃𝙀𝘼𝙍𝙏— 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙘𝙠𝙨𝙢𝙞𝙩𝙝/𝙈𝙤𝙩𝙤𝙬𝙣
Considering a follow-up to Vince Staples’ 2021 self-titled LP seemed like a tall-order. The Long Beach, CA rapper does so easily on RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART—all the while cementing himself as one of the most forthright and articulate emcees today. It’s no-wonder that he’s been able to maintain cross-generational appeal since 2015’s Summertime ‘06.
Similar to FM!, as with the ‘21 self-titled album, [...] christ […] even as with the futuristic electronica of Big Fish Theory, Staples gives the listeners what they want, but on his own terms. That’s the modus-operandi.
As a long-time listener and once interviewee, I can confidently say that Staples must consider it a mission to educate listeners as to the Human Condition. Since some of the most honest moments of his career happen over lowrider rumbling beats, the underlying surface of his danceable songs are gutting in their irony; supremely listenable while detailing minutia of growing up under institutional oppression and subsequent rife gang culture.
“MAGIC” not only incorporates some of the hard-hitting bass reminiscent of the electronica on Big Fish Theory and Prima Donna, it speaks to an underlying semantic of the album and Vince’s body of work thus far: “[...] when you come from nothing, and make it into something [//] I call that luck.
But when you come from where we come from [//] I call that magic”, stalwart hip-hop Producer Mustard proclaims over proud trumpets, closing out the album's lead-single.
“MAMA’S BOY” is similarly illuminating as it presents “Makin’ money, makin’ moves
[//] Channel Seven, Breakin’ News'' as two sides of the same coin. A cause-and-effect.
The latter samples Sanyika Shakur’s mother. Sanyika, late gang-affiliate turned-activist/author (also known by former Eight Trey Crip moniker Monster or Monster Kody), heavily influences the album. Naturally, “MAMA’S BOY '' samples Sanyika’s mother, while interlude “THE SPIRIT OF MONSTER KODY'' features Sanyika’s own words prior to his ambiguous passing. The webbing of Sanyika related samples throughout RPBMH serve to contextualize the paths available to a young Vince from LBC. One thing we can expect from Vince's fifth studio album is adherence to theme.
The proceeding “BANG THAT” showcases the best singing from Vince to-date. It’s kind-of absurd how solid the back-end of RPBMH is.
The transitions between-songs are chock-full of seagulls, lapsing waves, and sometimes bullets. These liminal sound-effects contribute to palpable worldbuilding. There is a notable loop built by the first and final seconds of the album. Such noises call-back to Summertime ‘06’s “Ramona Park Legend Pt. 1”.
RPBMH is a continuation of a promising trajectory for Staples where each full-length release is somehow better than the last. This attention to detail is reminiscent of the debut double-album that still listens at a [relatively] curt fifty-nine minutes. Each Vince Staples record is a statement. The melodious flows and cohesive bars are par-for-the-course for one of the most respected emcees in the country.
We can give Vince Staples accolades and good-press until the cows come home, but as he lets listeners know on the second track of RPBMH;
If I had one wish, I’d free the homies.