Written by Mike T
The California coast is known as one of the most ravishing destinations on our planet, but to Vince Staples, it’s all but attractive. Your average listener may have picked up on Long Beach’s newest hip-hop artist in his EP titled Hell Can Wait. It was here where Staples gave us a snapshot of his unforgiving, real life approach to music. He now returns with much more than a snapshot on his 20-track debut album titled Summertime ’06.
If there isn’t a trademark on the term “eerie rap”, we at DC would grant it to Vince Staples. The vast majority of the instrumentals on Summertime ’06 are just that, and usually led by a strong wave of percussion. It’s over these beats where Staples vividly depicts exactly what his life was like growing up in LBC. Saying things like “Four deep, five seats, three guns” on Get Paid or on Senorita when he proclaims, “I’m trying to paint you a picture we stuck in the moment.” This is an extremely reoccurring theme throughout Summertime ’06, almost to the point where it is too reoccurring. But for now, let’s break this ish down.
Summertime ’06 was accompanied by two singles: Senorita Ft Future and Norf Norf. Both of these songs house some very dope visuals, so check them out if you haven’t already. Let there be no confusion that these “singles” were far from an attempt to morph with pop in hopes to gain radio play. Summertime ’06 and its belongings are ruthless, cold-hearted, aggressive, and pretty damn good. It also should be said that Vince Staples makes it clear that he didn’t chose to live this type of lifestyle, explaining there’s “…a war to be won baby, it’s either hunt or be hunted“.
Throughout Summertime ’06, Vince Staples tells tales of a “dead body in the alley-way” and “sellin dope to nigga’s mommas“, and it becomes quickly apparent that his music is a creative expression of his environment. This creative expression is executed very thoroughly, leaving no stone unturned. There also seems to be an overlying conflict of Vince’s passions and abilities with his violent and criminal tendencies. In some songs he shows his confidence in himself and his future asking things like, “Will your name hold weight when the curtains close?” or saying, “I wake up feelin like I am the coldest nigga breathin“. However in other songs his merciless side is exposed stating, “Fuck your dead homies, run your bread homie“.
Between this conflict lies a subtle sense of hopelessness from Vince Staples, most likely due to the unfortunate circumstances of his surroundings, starting Summertime ’06 saying, “I’m just a nigga, until I fill my pockets” and stating “Every nigga dead to the world until his life end” on Surf. Through these lines of acknowledgement, it becomes very obvious that Staples is a smart dude and knows what the fuck is going on. And if you think about it, this music, though revealing a negative reality, is a positive force because it exposes the fact that even in the worst conditions, anyone can make it out and live their dreams.
Besides random criticism here and there, the main downfall of Summertime ’06 is that it’s just too long for the amount of redundancy it withholds. If you’re going to make a collective of work that sounds very similar from song to song, and has the same subject matter, it doesn’t make sense to put 20-tracks on it. This substantial amount of content leads to the latter portion of the album getting skimmed over or completely untouched by the average listener, which is sad to say being that disc 2 has some gems on it. However, with that being said, Vince Staples has very much still paved his own lane in the music world and has built the foundation for what should be a successful rapping career. Who knows, maybe he’ll meet us in the middle on his next album with 12-tracks. Until then we’ll be stuck in the summertime of 2006.