Release Date: Nov 2, 2018
Record label: Def Jam Recordings
One of Vince Staples' most refreshing qualities is his ability to weave his way through a variety of musical gauntlets. On 2016's Prima Donna EP, the Long Beach native spit over heart-thumping gangsta rap beats only to return with the minimalist techno vibe of Big Fish Theory the following year. It’s that kind of malleability that allows Staples to experiment with the Gorillaz or pop up in a random Sprite commercial.
On Vince Staples' debut mixtape, in a calm tone that suggested he had seen some shit, he rapped, "You want some positivity go listen to some Common." Eight years later, he continues to live up to those words. In Vince's Long Beach, California-centered world, it's summer year-round, and while the season usually brings bright skies and beach weather, it's also the time of the year when people are wilding--when the temperature increases, so does violent crime. The West Coast never gets a chance to catch its breath, a feeling brought by the change in season.
Vince Staples is one of the boldest personalities in the Hip Hop scene; he's bluntly honest and hilarious, making it hard not to like the Long Beach rapper. Vince has never been one to shy away from controversy - the rapper's music is often provocative in its depiction of topics that are somewhat awkward or usually taboo within the genre. His music videos push this even further, as in Señorita showing a rich white family looking through a glass window at the pain and suffering that exists in Vince's hometown neighbourhood, drawing a comparison to those more privileged viewing the suffering of others as entertainment through their televisions.
It's a shame for Vince Staples that Kendrick Lamar released 'DAMN.' last year, as with the Compton rapper's anxiety-laden masterpiece removed from the equation, his second album 'Big Fish Theory' would've stood alone as the most accomplished, exciting rap album of the year. A bubbling cauldron of hyper-modern beats and skittish, lightning fast verses, the album pushed the Long Beach rapper forward to becoming one of the most intriguing, forward-thinking voices in the genre, and on the planet full-stop. After an excellent one-off single earlier this year in the confrontational 'Get The Fuck Off My Dick', Vince has now shared third album 'FM!', released with little to no warning.
The Cali rapper is here for a good time, not a long time, his accomplished third album a compelling reminder that life isn't always sunny Words: Dhruva Balram Vince Staples has always had plenty to say. He's also never been shy about saying it. On his third album, 'FM!', his message is brisk. The overarching theme of things being cut short is at the forefront of the project; of life being lived to the fullest while death could be around the corner.
The Lowdown: Vince Staples is one of hip-hop's sweethearts. With the success he's gained by simply being himself, Staples seems to realize he doesn't need to refine his raw sound to release radio-friendly songs. FM! is an extremely crude, yet beautiful album that features the west coast rapper taking over the city's airwaves with his music. In 22 minutes, he curates his own version of "Big Boy's Neighborhood" by threading his songs together with listener call-ins, adding interludes from Earl Sweatshirt and Tyga, and even inserting a giveaway segment.
Rating: NNNN On his third official album, Vince Staples continues his reign as a unique, highly skilled and energized artist. It's worth noting that his pre-debut Shyne Coldchain mixtapes are as solid as any of his official releases - and at first glance, FM! actually resembles a mixtape, with 11 songs and two brief snippets of new releases from other artists, topping out at a lean 22 minutes. Although it shares its predecessor Big Fish Theory's short run time, double-time flows and blink-and-you-miss-it metaphors, FM! is a return to more straightforward production, with little hint of the blippy electronics he attacked confidently on the previous album.
"I don't feel like I need to go too deeply into explaining my lyrics. People don't care about what's happening in Long Beach, or Compton, or Watts… When they look at these areas, and look at these people, they don't see themselves. Until people really see themselves within other people, they can't genuinely care for their betterment," Vince Staples commented on the Genius page for his song 'Señorita'.