1. Here’s some bits of Pasta Magazine‘s Stephen Kearse’s review, pointing out things that I didn’t know about the EP:
“Chronologically, the album moves backward in time from the rap star’s death, beginning with him committing suicide and ending with him as a gangbanger, each successive track contextualizing his suicide. […] The EP reportedly is constructed to be played forward or backward, and both directions are bleak: you can either experience a black man spiral away from death or toward it, knowing that he hates his life.”
2. I remember getting home on August 26 and finding that I had three (!) high-profile hip-hop releases to nab: De La Soul, Young Thug and this one. (And a week later, we got ourselves two more: Isaiah Rashad and Travi$ Scott.)
Put simply, this one is my favorite of the bunch (not just of the August 26 releases): five good beats (No I.D.’s “Pimp Hand” is comparatively weaker than any of DJ Dahi’s or James Blake’s offerings…surprisingly) and a good rapper on each of them. I maintain my stance that Vince Staples’ greatest asset is his cracked voice; older than his years. His raps aren’t hard to follow, which makes certain lines devastating (“A wise man once said that a black man better off dead”) and his lyrics don’t glorify anything, they simply tell them like it is. And the beats! Dig the crisp drum sound that Blake cooks up for “War Ready”; the rapid oscillations of the synth in the same song; the guitar rev of “Smile”; the blaring alarm of “Loco”; the truncated vocal of the title track, in contrast to the washed out vocals in the choruses; the depth charges of “Big Time.” I’d take Blake’s “War Ready” over anything he had on The Colour of Anything if not all of it.
3. Yes, the mumbled codas that end almost every song are a bit annoying, but given this guy’s voice, it’s hard not to be won over by hearing him soberly trying to carry a line like “I just wanna live forever” in a way that suggests anything but.