Well, I didn’t expect another Vince Staples project to drop this soon, but hey, I’m up for this one.
To echo what Rob said when reviewing his last album, Vince Staples is definitely one of the best rappers today with his dope rhymes, forward-thinking content, and charismatic presence, along with mastering the wings of death. Now he has released his 3rd studio album(?) on Def Jam, and you might notice something: it is only 11 tracks (8 songs, 2 interludes and a skit) and 22 minutes. Seems like every album (hip-hop or otherwise) I’ve come across recently is that short… mind you, I’m not complaining, and that statement applies here as well because this is another damn good album from Staples.
The whole motif with this album is that it plays like a radio station, most notably Big Boy’s Neighborhood as you do hear that in between the songs along with the interludes featuring new music from Earl Sweatshirt and Tyga (crossing my fingers for a new Earl album or something coming soon — Hell, it might come out after this review goes up).
The rest of the track list is definitely full of fun-sounding bangers, even though the content is mainly his life growing up around gang violence. In the first track, “Feels like Summer,” he describes that while summer in Long Beach may be fun, it’s still dangerous as all hell, and we also got some new backup vocals from Ty Dolla $ign.
Summertime in the LB wild
We gon’ party ’til the sun or the guns come out
JB first one fouled out playing ball
Now the whole city love you, how?
Boy they know they wasn’t down from the get go
Dirty got a dozen rounds, better get low
There’s also “Outside!” which yes, is a track that samples the Nyan Cat theme by Hatsune Miku, although you wouldn’t recognize it at first as the melody is slowed and pitch-shifted down.
Like on his last album, you get some features here, but they aren’t listed in the tracks. There’s Jay Rock on “Don’t Get Chipped,” E-40 definitely snapping on “FUN!,” Kamaiyah on “No Bleedin’,” and Kehlani and Buddy both on “Tweakin’.” Speaking of that track, talk about a downer way to end the album, as Vince raps about the deaths of close friends and the effects that had on him, especially from these lyrics:
When Jibari died was off the porch for homicides
Then when Hefe died, I bought some things to pass the gas
But when Johnny died all I had was shows booked
As for the production of this album, this is very much in infectious banger territory that doesn’t overstay its welcome. I noticed one producer on here who delivered that type of production this year on another mixtape but before I do, I have to give producers Cubeatz, Hagler, and KillaGraham props on their production as well. The one producer I’m talking about is Kenny Beats. You remember that I briefly talked about him when he produced some tracks on Freddie Gibbs’ mixtape from this year, Freddie. Yes, this is not quite as experimental as Big Fish Theory was, but Vince always likes to challenge himself and not be boxed in with just this one similar style.
FINAL VERDICT: Buy it. Vince Staples’ FM makes you want to turn your radio up.
FM is available on Def Jam Recordings on CD, digital download and streaming services.