at its core, ‘vince staples’ deals with choices. the album is a reflection on grey areas and how vince chooses to handle his life.
whether a choice is about thugging, a production decision, showing new areas and emotions, being in the streets, etc. in any case, staples’ flattened attitude is devastatingly candid.
a previously hidden part of vince staples is not only present, it is at the forefront of the record. a new side of vince is shown via his introspective lyrics and vulnerable spirit.
vince staples’ self titled album is a vivid listen that steadily details staples’ preoccupation with death.
lyrics centrally deal with morbidity and decisions between black and white areas. this represents an interesting phenomenon within ‘vince staples’, as the black and white areas are depicted throughout vince’s livelihood.
in staples’ former life he was in the streets. now, vince staples is one of the most celebrated rappers worldwide. staples’ new lifestyle is made up of the high life, full of stardom; the opposite of his upbringings.
the entire album cover aesthetically symbolizes the grey area that vince occupies. he stands in the middle of a crossroads; it’s as if this entire album is a single instance, and vince stays in this one moment where he chooses to change. staples meaningfully shares this snapshot of time through an entire album.
on “are you with that?” - the beginning track - there’s a dissolution of grey area: you’re either with it or you aren’t. this distinct difference in being hip is what positions ‘vince staples’, and it transforms the music from simply repetitive rap songs into multifaceted tracks with nuance and gravity.
vince flexes his strong pen game and uses subtle metaphors representative of death. when vince references the terms “inside” or “outside” on “are you with that?”, he is talking about death. staples uses these terms to emphasize life status and demonstrate the tough reality of gang violence.
throughout ‘vince staples’ there are choices in presentation. a key choice of the album is how vince reflects on changing his lifestyle as result of his past.
ironically, while ‘vince staples’ is essentially inside a moment of time dedicated to change, vince is ultimately stuck in that moment (at least on this album).
if ‘big fish theory’ was about rapper vince staples choosing abrupt production and a callous concept, than ‘vince staples’ is that same idea on a much more sedated level. ‘vince staples’ has the raw energy of staples’ earlier works, yet it feels as if the album is on a xan.
vince chooses smoother, chill production by kenny beats rather than opting for more abstract production (like on ‘big fish theory’ or the harder moments of ‘summertime ‘06’). kenny beats’ work is divine. the result is an immersive and accessible album that warrants an urge to re-listen to.