Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

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1. Basically, this is the opposite of friend Earl Sweatshirt’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside’s focus.

2. Summertime ‘06 clocks in at under 60 minutes, which means, like say the Flaming Lips’ Embryonic, this could have easily been put onto one disc (were we surprised? The average Vince Staples track length is probably under the 3 minute mark). Maybe he saw the accolades J. Cole was getting last year for being the first hip-hop artist in 25 years to go platinum without features and wanted his own that would have been just as meaningless.

In other words, if people begin claiming Summertime ‘06 is the best hip-hop double album since Speakerboxxx / The Love Below, that’s simply because no noteworthy ones have happened in the interim.

3. A few people have tried to push this as some merging of the West Coast (because that’s where Vince and DJ Dahi hails from), the East Coast (because that’s where Clams Casino comes from), the South (because “Senorita” samples Future), with No I.D. at the center of it all.

Nah, the blurring of area-specific hip-hop has happened years ago, and you get the feeling that Vince Staples is only touching on so many styles because he doesn’t have a specific sound; jack of all trades, master of none, etc.

4. I’ve been watching Clams Casino’s goodwill steadily decline (perhaps coincidentally, with the genre that he helped push forward in the first place), beginning with contributing some of the most normal cloud rap songs you’ll ever hear on Live.Love.A$AP and eventually culminating in him switching over to the like-minded alternative R&B.

So hearing “Norf Norf” and “Surf” is a pleasant surprise because both are surprises, with the former’s disorientating thick haze of keyboards and the latter’s heavy bass and addicting forward-momentum. And Vince Staples is immensely quotable on both songs: “Know when change gon’ come like Obama would say / But they shootin’ everyday ’round my mama and them way / So we put a AK where Kiana and them stay”; “Nate Dogg still here cause of niggas like me / Police still scared cause of niggas like me”; “How you rich but your bitch in an old Ford? / How you black sellin’ crack for the white man? / How you real, wouldn’t kill for your right hand? / On the stand sworn in with ya right hand”; etc.

Also: hearing him pronounce “Northside” as “Norf side” is fun.

6. The two singles released so far are some of the album’s weaker numbers. “Senorita” sounds like Vince Staples spliced a mediocre Future song and the ending of “New Slaves” together (just without “New Slaves”’ immortal buildup, catharsis or Frank Ocean-aided cooldown). Meanwhile, “Get Paid” gets by based on Desi Mo’s contribution.

7. ”Might Be Wrong” is the emotional centerpiece of the second disc, and it’s a highly ambitious track whose execution and thus, emotional impact, would have been better if it were shortened to a brief interlude; think Sonic Youth’s “Providence.” The choruses are overwrought in comparison to the verses.

8. Other highlights: DJ Dahi’s hypnotic percussion programming of “Lemme Know” (might be his best beat since “Worst Behavior”); the seemingly constantly crescendo-ing vocals of “Jump Off the Roof”; the drunk symphony of “3230” during the verses (is that a detuned horn? A demonic violin? Groaning vocals?) and the keyboard melody during the melodies.

9. I came to Summertime ‘06 with the lowest expectations, having never been impressed by Vince Staples’ rapping or the functional minimalism that he often relies on (some of them blur together as a result). But, his rapping on the twenty-track album maintains a commend-worthy level of consistency and the beats maintains a commend-worthy atmosphere of a troubled California neighborhood at night.

10. Earl Sweatshirt (who gives a cameo appearance in one of the three useless skits) is about twice the rapper that Staples is. But he’s also an artist whose albums are incredibly problematic, including his latest, which was his best.

Summertime ‘06 is better.

B+

EDIT (January 10, 2015): underrated this. It’s a great album, if a bit too ambitious in its sprawl (ie. “Senorita,” “Might Be Wrong”; something like “Hang N Bang” has nice bass but is otherwise not memorable). The rapper has a great voice – he sounds youthful but worn down by weltschmerz (such that a line like “You ain’t ever push nobody’s scalp back” doesn’t sound like a boast but rather just stating the facts) and the beats are even better – this might be the most atmospheric hip-hop vision of America since the 90s.

A-

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4 responses to “Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

  1. Pingback: The 10 Best Albums of 2015 (So Far) | Free City Sounds·

  2. Pingback: Vince Staples – Stolen Youth | Free City Sounds·

  3. Pingback: The 10 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2015 | Free City Sounds·

  4. Pingback: 3 Album Reviews: New Languages (Vince Staples, Shabazz Palaces, Clams Casino) | Free City Sounds·

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