Vince Staples makes his highly anticipated, full-length debut in Summertime ’06. The follow up to 2014’s acclaimed EP Hell Can Wait, Staples made the album available for streaming last night, a week ahead of the project’s scheduled release date of June 30th.
On Hell Can Wait, Vince displayed his unique, relaxed flow that showed off almost a certain swagger that really created a cool combination to produce his best project and singles to date. Despite his relaxed and almost monotone sound, he was able to provide some punch on banging beats, such as “Blue Suede”. With the EP highly successful among both critics and hip-hop fans alike, the announcement of this full-length LP brought with it a considerable amount of hype.
Summertime ’06 opens with “Ramona Park Legend, Pt. 1”, an instrumental track that sets a dark, gritty mood for the album. As we transition to “Lift Me Up”, we hear Vince for the first time on another darker track that features a hook that, although repetitive, won’t fail to get the listener’s head nodding. In addition, the verses, especially the flow and vocal rhythm, suit the production on this track exceptionally well. Definitely a nice way to be eased into what’s to come.
Moving on to “Norf Norf”, we experience a definite highlight of Summertime ’06. What makes this track special is the beat. It suits Staples’ lyricism very well. Almost disorienting, it pushes all the right buttons and provides an excellent venue for Vince to go in with some harder flows and a variety of voice inflections – almost a sound unheard form the Long Beach-native before. Clams Casino comes through, once again, on this one.
DJ Dahi and no I.D. flood this project’s credits, providing a dark and grimey atmosphere that is consistent throughout. The theme maintains from start to finish, yet there is just enough variety in the production to signal clear, albeit smooth, transitions, from track to track.
“Lemme Know” seems to provide yet another example of how a Jhene Aiko feature can add a little something extra to a hip-hop project. Her voice is laced over Staples’ for the majority of the track, providing a welcome change of pace. Jhene and Vince match each other’s flow in separate, individual verses in the track as well, adding more depth and a new, more melodic sound to the project. The next track, “Dopeman”, offers another instance of strong feature use. Joey Fatts starts off this track hard immediately, while Kilo Kish and Vince spit overlapping vocals, once again allowing for a more melodic sound from Vince. At just 1:53, this song is somehow the perfect length and just offers a nice little punch into the project. Short and sweet.
Released about a month ago, “Señorita” drops in and provides the hardest bass of the project. Future delivers a really cool hook that is unfortunately nearly impossible to decipher thanks to its fast speed. But Vince replicates the speed in his verses while maintaining his patented flow. Another welcome change of pace to the album on a track that, although is more of a banger, maintains the ominous vibes of the project. “Summertime”, the next track is almost a juxtaposition of the preceding single. The mood of the song seems to perfectly encapsulate the album’s darker sound while setting a summertime mood. Staples sings for the entirety of the track, providing the listener with a totally unexpected but endearing sound.
On “Get Paid”, No I.D. lays down a great beat, paired with a catchy hook that makes the song very malleable for a variety of genres and settings. Staples’ lyrics are aggressive but unfortunately, his voice doesn’t match the message. Despite the hard lyrics, Vince fails to match the intensity of his words. The flow that makes him unique and sets him apart kind of lets him down in this track. We’ve seen him go harder on tracks, when necessary, in the past and on this project, and this seems like an instance where more inflection or emphasis in the verses are needed.
“Might be Wrong” gives off some nice R&B vibes, with Haneef Talib starting this off with some very smooth vocals. The track also has an electronic sound to it and features a spoken word verse. A nice interlude in the album’s second half.
With Summertime ’06, Vince Staples somehow manages to switch up styles and sounds, while maintaining a great cohesiveness throughout the album. Although the young emcee deserves a lot of credit for this, the masterful production and varied features definitely play a part in this achievement as well. Some might be disappointed in this debut from Staples, but many of these reasons are irrelevant and a bit silly. Many were expecting certain features from the likes of Earl Sweatshirt to Larry Fisherman, while others were likely hoping for an extension of Hell Can Wait. On Summetime ’06, Vince Staples evolves lyrically and musically. We hear multiple sides never heard before, while the artist maintains a lot of his style that has brought him to the forefront of hip-hop. Vince hits on all points on this album. Believe the hype.