Tis time round, the electronic experimentations of Big Fish Theory are long gone in favour of booming trap beats and Staples’s unique form of modern-day gangsta rap, and at various points a melodic quality shines through in his voice which has previously gone unheard.
Law Of Averages is a brilliant showcase for his cold-hearted bars (“Cherry Ave, Downey Ave, hoe you average / Louis bag, Gucci bag, you got baggage / I will never give my money to a bad bitch”) over punchy drums and a chirruping, pitched-down sample, while The Shining is deceptively cute with cascading plinks of melody anchored by a simple i-VI chord sequence.
Take Me Home is one of the more mellow track, Kenny Beats delivering a smooth guitar lick to accompany the low-key bars and tuneful hook by Foushee. References to The Wizard Of Oz abound, and the resignation in Staples’ voice makes it a real emotional centrepiece. Closing track Mhm by contrast is pure flexing, braggadocious lyrics and distorted bass that would be intimidating if it weren’t so irrepressibly bouncy.
Staples has always had a penchant for the street life, and this is echoed in the album’s interludes: voicemail monologues from a pistol-toting woman and a man trying to play it cool in front of the cops, backed by luscious, filtered samples which give the record a coherency previous Staples LPs lacked (although in fairness 2018’s FM utilised sonically jarring moments as part of its concept).
Vince Staples is a worthy continuation of his oeuvre, and proof if it were needed that his paradox of youthful energy and world-weary cynicism remains as captivating as ever.