Will FM! Bump In The Whip?
By Edward Kasule
Vince Staples, an artist from North Long Beach, loves to give his unique perspective on the world. Ever since his debut album “Summertime ‘06,” he solidified his position as a conscious gangster rapper. On this project, Staples impressed me with his ability to blend hood culture with mainstream culture and capture the reality of many young black people in America. “Lift Me Up,” the second track of the double-disc album, starts off with Vince rapping, “I’m just a n---a, until I fill my pockets / and then I’m Mr. N---a, they follow me while shopping. ” The hook on “Norf Norf” raps “I ain’t never ran from nothing but the police… From the city where the skinny kept strong heat, Norfside Long Beach.” These types of brutally honest bars distinguish Vince from his peers and draw me to his music.
On FM!, Vince’s new album, the artist provides his perspective on the influence the radio has on its listeners. He used his Westside origins to put “Big Boy’s Neighborhood,” a Los Angeles radio show, on skits that cause the album to play out like someone is listening to the radio. Staples wanders away from the traditional music played on the radio, and puts his own twist on it. The first song of the album establishes a warm, summer feeling. Big Boy, the host of the radio show, tells everyone to go outside and enjoy the weather. The album continues on with the tracks “Outside!’ and “Don’t Get Chipped” that warn of the dangers of enjoying the summer in Northside Long Beach. Staples features Jay Rock, Earl Sweatshirt, Ty Dolla $ign, Kehlani, Kamaiyah, and Tyga -- all artists from California. The album concludes with Vince reflecting on the impact of radio. He reflects on his life, all the people he has lost, and everything that has happened -- and it has him “Tweakin’.”
Vince Staples uses the radio to represent American culture and its perils. American culture tells you to do certain things but it doesn’t warn you about all the dangers potentially associated with those actions. Staples seeks to create his own culture by putting his own artists and sounds on the radio. He hopes to change the outcome of people’s lives, by changing the information they consume.