The subject matter rarely changes in gangsta rap. Someone is getting high. Someone is getting smoked. Someone is getting screwed, literally or metaphorically. The streets and sets are often the same. Ravaged blocks get immortality through wars and martyrdom for muddled causes. The guns are the same, so is the slang. What’s different is the circumstances and the stories. Staples is from Long Beach, boasts a Crip past, blood shot eyes, and the same wary avarice and aggression instilled in LA gangsters from a young age. In the grand taxonomy, Vince played the Schoolboy to Earl Sweatshirt’s Kendrick on last year’s Doris. He’s the Crip artillery to the cerebral poet in the project hallway (or in Earl’s case: private school hallway).
Staples is signed to Def Jam, which might not be the right fit, considering his music is antithetical to the desperate turn up rap that seems to be the only shit you ever hear on the radio. His music isn’t as animated as Q, but equally vicious. The type of person who would put a noose on the cover of his album fashioned from a marine blue bandanna. 2 Chainz this isn’t. It makes him more in the mold of an MC Eiht or a Spice 1 than say a Snoop. For him to keep earning the Def Jam patronage, he’ll probably need to make a party song at some point that fits the format. In the meantime, there’s something deeply admirable about letting him kick his immaculately constructed murder raps over beats from No I.D. “Nate” sounds like something Common would rhyme over on a Hi-Tek compilation. That’s a good thing, more evidence that while the gangsta rap lyrics don’t break the mold, the production is adventurous. It doesn’t need to be G-Funk to convey the idea that it will still fuck you up. And when the inevitable full-length collabo with Alchemist comes, we’ll all be ready.
ZIP: Vince Staples – Shyne Coldchain II