Welcome back to Ramona Park. Following 2017’s Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples is back at it with a new offering, “FM.”
Hailing from Long Beach, California, Vince came up frequently
collaborating with Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt and the late great Mac Miller. A true West Coast
native, the subject matter of Staples’ music is often dark and based on his life experiences.
Clocking in at 22 minutes with 11 tracks, “FM” is short and sweet. Vince’s style of rapping is sort of ironic and sarcastic with a pessimistic sense of humor warped into it all.
Imagine an album full of club bangers with a slightly nihilist approach to it. This odd concoction is “FM.” This album plays like an afternoon radio station, hence the title, “FM.” Starting off with “Feels Like Summer,” Vince details how no matter what time of year it is in Long Beach, it always feels like summer to him., with everybody in the neighborhood always out enjoying the fresh air, getting into trouble and having block parties.
Another element of summer however is the murder rate. In places such as L.A. or Chicago, the murder rate skyrockets during the summer months. When Vince says it always feels like summer, he is referencing how it seems like his friends and loved ones are always getting killed at a substantial rate. Despite this melancholy message, Vince turns this song into an all-out banger with the assistance of Ty Dolla $ign.
Continuing on through “FM,” the listener is met with some serious heat. The instrumentals on this album are incredible and energetic. “FM” makes you feel like you are in the middle of a block party at its peak, and that works in its favor. Vince always impresses both lyrically and through his delivery.
Another great aspect of this album is the features. Contributions from Kamaiyah, Jay Rock, Kehlani, and the legendary E-40, all provide stellar additions to “FM.” A snippet from the long missing Earl Sweatshirt will make fans salivate, while another snippet from Tyga goes surprisingly hard. Every song on “FM” is like a sonic trunk rattle, thumping against your eardrums and lifting you off your feet.
There is a clear influence of ‘90s gangster rap and G-Funk wrapped around this LP. While
clearly sounding modern, “FM” could stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle” or Ice Cube’s “The Predator.” The sound is authentic and incredibly fun to listen to, while providing enough substance to keep the listener coming back. Perhaps Vince’s greatest strength is his ability to inject commercial style beats with his quirky sass and knowledge of how bleak the world may actually be behind the curtains.
Vince Staples’ “FM” is an incredible short listen that delivers on every front, and hits all of the marks with the speed and accuracy of a sharpshooter with a water gun. “FM” has enormous power behind it, but plays easily enough to be background noise at the next function or to motivate an intense workout. Versatile and fluid, Vince has crafted another great album that fans will enjoy while possibly getting more casual listeners on board with ease. I can’t wait to hear what Vince provides next time on Poppy Street.