At age 21, Vince Staples has already emerged as a leading voice in West Coast gangsta rap. He's got the vocal maturity of someone far beyond his years, and he raps about his Long Beach locale as streets plagued with deeply-embedded violence but also brimming with inspiration. His lyrics prompt increased reflection with each listen, though his songs never lose their energy or sense of urgency.
Last year, Vince released a mixtape, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, and his debut EP, Hell Can Wait, on Def Jam. Both projects, the EP especially, received universal acclaim. We haven't heard West Coast street rap like this since the 90s. Long Beach was a scary place back then, and Vince is here to tell us shit hasn't changed. Though the lead single "Blue Suede" can be called a "banger" simply off pure adrenaline, there's nothing celebratory about it. He chillingly rhymes "New shoes with the blue suede" with "Young graves get the bouquets." The two go hand-in-hand. Vince's brand of gangsta rap is a response to trap and its glossing over of violent street culture. Vince doesn't glorify this life, but when he raps, you know he's living it.