Vince Staples ‘FM!’ short but sweet


Alex Camilli, @A_Carnation

The acronym FM is commonly associated with stereo systems capable of producing frequency modulated waves on the radio. Rapper Vince Staples has definitely made waves with his latest effort “FM!”

Staples was born in Compton then relocated to Long Beach to become involved with street gangs known as the “Rollin’ 90s Crips”. Staples detailed his experiences through his lyrics on tracks such as “Blue Suede” from his EP “Hell Can Wait” and “Norf Norf,” from his debut album “Summertime ’06” released on Oct. 7, 2014 and June 30, 2015 respectively.

After learning how to organically grow his lyrical skill set through establishing close bonds with Odd Future members Syd the Kid and Earl Sweatshirt in 2011, Staples has proven to excel rapping over a variety of different beats. However, on “FM!” former EDM producer Kenneth Blume, commonly known as Kenny Beats, provided most of the larger-than-life instrumentals.

Staples released “Big Fish Theory” in June 23, 2017 and was also featured with artists such as Gorillaz, Kilo Kish and Flume showcasing his versatility and testing the boundaries of conventional hip-hop.

“FM!” released under Def Jam Recordings and includes performances from California talent such as Ty Dolla $ign, Kehlani, Kamaiyah, E40 and more.

This latest release is not to be mistaken as an album, said Staples in an Instagram post. The best description for his latest work would be a “special project dedicated to my biggest fan and supporter since day one.” With the total run time being only 22 minutes it serves as a flagrant, short and sweet compilation of tracks.

Track one “Feels Like Summer” immediately introduces the easily recognizable voice of the longtime host of Real 92.3 Kurt Alexander who is widely known as Big Boy. Big Boy would reiterate the phrase “it always feels like summer” which is fitting due to him being a California native.

Once Staples begins his opening verse we are introduced to an artist who contrasts the fruitful nature of a west coast summer with the grim happenings of gang activity and the increase of black-on-black violence. The catchy hook is courtesy of Ty Dolla $ign but the next track “Outside” is where Staples offers a simple, yet adrenaline-pumping hook ideal for live performances.

“Don’t Get Chipped” is next on the tracklist and features Top Dawg Entertainment signee Jay Rock where the two run rampant over distorted 808s and stuttering hi-hats. Track five is titled “New earl sweatshirt” which serves its purpose as the interlude, possibly foreshadowing a new release of music from Sweatshirt, as he delivers a 20 second verse which in all honesty is too brief.

On the song “Run the Bands” the production is pure trap, vastly different from his previous effort “Big Fish Theory,” containing elements of “Detroit Techno” style that commonly contains a heavy synth pattern and digital percussion popularized by musicians Jeff Mills and Juan Atkins.

Staples seemed to include digital percussive elements on the track “No Bleeding” featuring rapper Kamaiyah. The track is impressive as Staples makes use of the complex kick, clap and snare pattern to structure each line of his lyrics to end consistently on the third beat of every bar. This is indicative of how much he has progressed as an artist to create a sense of controlled chaos.

After another interlude featuring Los Angeles rapper Tyga, Staples recruits both Bay Area’s very own Kehlani and a fellow Compton rapper Buddy for his last track “Tweakin’.” This is an explosive finish to the project, though it is by no means perfect.

The release is to sate fans’ appetite for new music, but it would benefit Staples if he tries different flows in future efforts.