The Ramona Park Rapper Is Back With One Of His Best Efforts Yet.
The same day that he officially announced it, the Ramona Park legend dropped FM! A short, 11-track album, with production almost exclusively from longtime collaborator, Kenny Beats. The follow up to an experimental Big Fish Theory, FM! Looks to be a return to the old west coast sound that made people fall in love with Staples in the first place. Let’s not waste any more time – it’s been too long since I’ve heard new music from Vince.
Track 1 – Feels Like Summer
I think everyone can relate that it’s just exciting to hear new Vince. Beat comes creeping in and Vince comes with the flow! Not a second wasted, he’s already beginning the journey, and I’m a passenger from the start. The beat is like if a cyclone developed hard drums and a pattern of hi-hats. Ty Dolla has entered the building! Ty Dolla $ign is like the trap pastor of R&B, giving a hook that is equally soothing and rough. He never gives a bad feature (seriously, name one. You can’t). Verse two is just as good as the first. ‘Somebody gotta watch my back,’ this is Vince Staples everyone. He’s “back” (he never left). Nice intro, I hope this is the tone setter for the rest of the album and sound he’s bringing.
Track 2 – Outside!
What a transition! Track two already has momentum from the first, and the production from Kenny Beats is setting up for a head-bopping track. ‘Yeah!’ Vince is one of the few artists who can say, ‘yeah’ before the beat drops with it sounding natural – so often artists say random phrases before their beat comes in and just end up sounding like an idiot. Vince has an amazing voice too – not in the Whitney Houston kind of way, in the Eazy-E kind of way. The dude could rap anything and it would sound cool, and thankfully he has the lyrics to be more than just that. This track just goes, simple as that. He takes somewhat of a new tone approach on the second half of the track, and it works (of course). I love it. The track is nice and quick-to-the-punch. 2/2.
Track 3 – Don’t Get Chipped
My goodness these beat switches, and this one is icy. It sounds like a seagull on the beach of the album cover met a stringed instrument. Beat drop and Vince is off like a rocket. The flow and vocal approach is nothing less than perfect. I’m not sure whether I need to listen to the instrumental or fire lyrics more. Is that – yeah. Jay Rock just came into the scene. Go listen to Redemption, it’s one of the best albums of the year that no one knows about. Nice hook by Mr. Rock. Vince is bringing so much energy on the second verse – flowing fast without just taking the ‘flow fast and they’ll forget your bad lyrics’approach. Vince uses the rapid-fire flow better than anyone, mixing in good lyrics with some solid storytelling, and the story fits the pace. There are too many bars to type but trust me – the second verse is nothing but fire. Jay Rock enters seamlessly into his second hook of the track, and it rounds out leading into track 4.
Track 4 – Relay
The beat selection just gets better and better. I’m all for the transitions from song-to-song; it’s giving each track extra momentum and tying them neatly together. This sounds like something from the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. Anddddddd the beat just dropped. He’s already four for four, this beat is tailor-made for Vince. Skinnerrrrrrrrrrr, haha, this is awesome. We’re getting the bouncy, charismatic Vince for a whole album, no complaints from me. This beat is just ridiculous and haunting, and matched with Vince’s flow it’s just not fair. No one should be allowed to spit this many bars on such a beat. Absolute fire. Added to my favorites playlist immediately.
Track 5 – New earlsweatshirt (Interlude)
I love Earl as much as anyone, and him and Vince are like peanut butter and jelly, undeniably great. Okay it’s just a snippet but that’s all I needed to hear to be excited for Earl’s new project. I’ll always love how calm Earl sounds while spitting. The promo is a great move, instead of an Instagram snippet, we got a studio quality preview of Earl for twenty seconds, I’m even more excited now.
Track 6 – Run the Bands
This hook is energetic, carries the same effect as Yeah Right and War Ready. The intertwined vocals in between the second part of the hook are effective. He’s spitting again, but really what else should I expect at this point? The flow is great. His inflection choice and switches to his flow are awesome. The whole track sounds extremely spontaneous, and I think that’s what Staples was going for on this one. Sweet track. Going to be the next ATM this year.
Track 7 – FUN!
Yeah the puns intended, but this album has been nothing but fun so far. It’s a thrill ride. This is similar to Big Fish Theory, except a little more rapping instead of techno here, like the perfect mixture of Summertime ’06 and Big Fish. The beat is just dancing between my headphones, I love how well the whole track fits together. F.U.N. – fuck up nothing. Great acronym that isn’t just used for the sake of having an acronym. Is that E-40 in the background? Please be true. Yep! There he is – the definition of fun. I’ll never hear an E-40 verse that isn’t enjoyable. Him and Vince just made one of the most charismatic tracks of the year.
Track 8 – No Bleedin
The radio feel and excerpts on this album are freaking awesome, they make the tracklist flow perfect and give an excuse to have skits throughout. Kamaiyah! You can barely hear her in the laced hook vocals, but the best female rapper on the west coast is present. Vince is spitting once again – there isn’t a bad bar on this entire album. The smooth hook comes in for a second round and is definitely welcomed. Kamaiyah gives a quick verse, but her flow and voice are just undeniable. The whole track really carries an old west coast hip hop vibe with it. It’s definitely something SOB x RBE would rap over. Please make a Vince Staples/SOB track happen – throw Schoolboy and YG on there and make it 7 minutes, I don’t care. I need it.
Track 9 – Brand New Tyga (Interlude)
Tyga is the comeback player of the year in rap, his album has become anticipated for me after he went back to what made him the best club artist in 2012. This snippet is niceeee. It’s not like Swish or Taste– which is a good thing. As much as everyone loves those songs, this shows that Tyga really is back into his old style completely. Sweet interlude, hope the full song is on Tyga’s album.
Track 10 – (562) 453-9382 (Skit)
Still in love with the radio vibe. Celebrities with V… You better say Vince. Vanessa Williams? That’s it!? YOU’RE ON VINCE STAPLES’ ALBUM! SAY HIS NAME. I’m disappointed in this caller. Next.
Track 11 – Tweakin’
This beat is extremely reminiscent of Drop The World by Wayne. Who is this? Buddy, okay. I dig the voice but don’t know much about the artist. ‘Never text, never call… I suggest you call,’ wow. Vince is a great storyteller – not Nas level, but certainly in a ballpark with the greats. His approach to this beat, with the mellow tone in his voice, is great. Ramona Park reference! What would a Vince album be without one? Kehlani comes in, and just works on dark tracks like this. Her discography is mainly positive music, but this track and Retribution by her and Pusha T shows how her ability to carry a sad vibe too. Haha, Vince’s twitter is all-time great stuff. Love that he put that line about it in there. This is really similar to the Stolen Youth tape, rest in peace to Mac. I really wonder what parts of this album were recorded after Mac’s passing – this seems to be around the topic without addressing it fully. A great, raw outro to a really good album by Vince, this rivals Summertime for his most bone-chilling track.
BEST TRACK: Relay
BEST FEATURE: Kehlani’s hook on Tweakin’
BEST QUALITIES: Quick, straight to the point album with plenty of replay value. The whole album flows together as one, and every verse has a quotable.
THINGS TO CHANGE: Just make the next one longer, and hopefully get features from even more west coast artists.