Looking back at Vince Staples’ career is compelling. Not one project of his falters lyrically, but his soundscapes change with each release. The abrasive EDM nature of Big Fish Theory, the west coast embracement of FM!, the cold cloud rap of Winter in Prague, it feels like there isn’t a sound he won’t touch. All through it all though, he doesn’t lose pace. Always revealing stories of his childhood in a jaded retrospective way, never glamorizing but recognizing that environment is the reason why he is the way he is.
Lyrics on “45” capture this like no other. He paints the bleak picture of an impoverished neighborhood & being stuck within the jail system. His approach isn’t a cry for help though, but more a recognition of the way things are. While he awaits the day everyone from his background can embrace & be comfortable in their own skin, he knows that day isn’t around the corner & will survive by any means.
Every track feels like a lyrical centerpiece, “Nate” in particular separates from his environment & looks at his father. He captures the small victories his father would receive as a drug dealer, the chrome wheels, the new J’s, but doesn’t skip the sadness. The abuse his mother would receive from his father, his drug addiction, constant trouble with the law. Its topics many wouldn’t know how to approach, but Vince’s delivery & view of them comes across as its all he’s ever known.
Vince Staples – Nate
While Vince is clearly the star of the show, No I.D.’s contributions shouldn’t be ignored here. Taking up the majority of the tracklist, he gives Vince some of his strongest production at the time while also setting the stage for years to come. The sound No I.D. would achieve on this project would only elevate with each project, slightly becoming less niche & more mainstream sounding, but never losing the lyrical capabilities. His masterful drum highlights each of Vince’s bars, while giving a crazy selection of minimally used samples that give the twisted feeling Vince’s music captures.
Vince’s growth from here becomes only on the production end, as even from this early on his penwork is incredible. With each release here on, he becomes more & more daring in his instrumental choice. While the lack of No I.D. on newer work is felt, its clear he’s aiming for something entirely different artistically. This constant growth in an artist is rare, and to see it with such a strong penmanship as Vince makes his career one of the most necessary discography dives you could take.