In a pop-cultural landscape dominated by Twitter beef, braggadocio and neon hair dye, Vince Staples is an outlier whose sole gimmick is his total lack of gimmickry. The 25-year-old MC endorses a straight-edge lifestyle and scoffs at designer jeans, delivering stoic nuggets of wisdom atop genre-bending production.
Staples’ pen is his strongest suit, often flashing back to his past life as a Long Island Crip while maintaining acute awareness of his current status as an influencer/role model. His latest record, FM!, masks its incisive social critique in West Coast bounce. Staples ruminates on masculinity and the cyclical nature of violence on “Relay.” On “Fun!,” he challenges his white fans to see the humanity behind the artists whose work they consume. Not once, though, do the instrumentals take a backburner. Thanks to producer Kenny Beats’ airtight percussion, FM! can be as introspective or as lit as you want it to be. Adorned with cover art that references Green Day’s Dookie, the album equally indulges Staples’ Pop and Punk sensibilities.
It takes guts to make a line like “wrong hat, wrong day, I’ll kill my brother” transition seamlessly into a Ty Dolla $ign chorus about chilling on the beach. But in this case, the gamble pays off. True to its name, FM! plays like a half-hour of your favorite radio station, stitching jarring mood shifts together with bombastic voiceovers and ninth-caller contests.
“I had a few songs — they sounded cohesive but not similar,” Staples said in a 2018 interview with BigBoyTV. “So I thought we should make it like the Big Boy in the Morning radio shows, with, like, skits and commercials.”
Appropriately, he also runs his social media accounts like a radio DJ of sorts, peppering his Twitter feed with a treasure trove of one-liners.
Why did the Old Testament forbid wearing clothes woven of two materials?
They was scared of the drip https://t.co/Ongw7EpSeU— VINCE STAPLES (@vincestaples) February 5, 2019
Staples also has some script ideas for a new-look Taken movie:
Since we not fucking with Liam Neeson anymore put me in the next Taken ima find Jay Z 92 bricks.— VINCE STAPLES (@vincestaples) February 11, 2019
There’s no question to which Vince Staples can’t devise a retweetable answer.