Vince Staples is what happens when you combine Snoop Dogg, a cold blooded hit-man, and a millennial black activist. Armed with a 45 and a dark sense of humor, these elements of his personality are prevalent throughout Summertime ’06, his collection of tales from the infamous streets of Long Beach, and more importantly, his debut LP.
Vince offers a different point of view in the gangster rap sub genre. The bursts of gunshots are followed by raps that almost rationalize the violence. As an album standout “Summertime” is the sum of all themes in the project. Staples speaks on the misguided priorities of the Long Beach youth due to being victims of circumstance and why it’s rendered him unable to love properly. “Summertime” also features Vince taking risks vocally and harmonizing throughout the record.
The album’s strong suit is owed to Vince’s rapping ability. He has a way of being able to captivate you without much variation in tone or delivery—a gift many emcees would die for. On “Lift Me Up” he’s a horse out of the gate with the defining proclamation of his social/racial status. “Señorita” and “Jump Off The Roof” show us what Vince is capable of over top notch production. Curated by No I.D, the album sounds like its own—meaning it doesn’t reach for the unnatural mainstream acceptance—and sounds like the vision of Long Beach rappers have given us over the years, from the traditional west coast roots to Latin influences.
Where he succeeds in just being Vince Staples, there are some drawbacks. He constantly tells us about the random going ons from his past, but everything is very surface level. He never gets into specifics. This may be due to the “statute of limitations” that he’s very aware of, but it does leave something to be desired. We want to know more.
Overall, Summertime ’06 is easily one of the shining moments of 2015. Vince is backed by a Dream Team in No I.D. and Def Jam, one the allows him to remain authentic to his brand. He’s coming out of his proverbial shell and becoming more of star with each release. Fans and peers alike are starting to pay more attention, and it’s never been more of a good time for that to happen than now.