Music Review: Vince Staples’ ‘Summertime ’06’

From “Nate” to “Kingdom,” pre-Summertime ’06 Vince was a talent to watch, with an appeal coming out of his first non-mixtape project Hell Can Wait. I remember “Nate” giving me goose bumps, but the sound was so clean and Vince was so raw that those goose bumps were happy ones.

Now back to Summertime ’06.

The album is split into two discs that have a definite beginning and end. After the intro, the first track to play is “Lift Me Up,” where Vince eloquently introduces us to his summer of ‘06. The track is written with contrasts on rich living and poor living and different hustles. Vince uses slick wordplay and metaphors throughout the track to refer to these elements of the story. In his first verse he raps, “My momma was a Christian, Crip walkin on blue-waters,” which visualizes two perceptions from his mother and Vince. Vince could be seen as an angel to his mother, but with the associations he’s made, it projects a double entendre for the blue water. In his second verse, Vince describes the album’s main themes with a double meaning; he raps “Fight between my conscious, and the skin that’s on my body / Man, I  fight the power, but I need that new Ferrari.” The first bar is reflective of half of the album, while the second bar is reflective of the other half.

No I.D. handles most of the production on the album, with Clams Casino and DJ Dahi contributing to a few tracks. No I.D. produces two of the standout instrumentals with “Jump Off the Roof,” which definitely won me over because it has “more cowbells.” “3230,” is the other track with an instrumental that wrecks over Vince, but not in a bad way. The track “3230” has a few layered synths over an audible drum loop and clank patterns.

On disc two, Vince follows with a trend where he has someone speak in the track, or, like on other tracks, afterwards. This track has James Fauntleroy on the hook, which complements the man who seems to be speaking over a phone from prison. The hook is reflective on the judiciary vs. morality. Fauntleroy sings about what whether or not his actions were right or wrong and ends it with these lines: “Die to the world, I took the money / so for my life / Can’t sleep at night, you shoulda seen the crib tho / So fucking nice,” which shows guilt with no regret. At this point I feel like this is where Vince flips the second disc on its head.

After the track finishes, this album then became what I expected, a double album that is ruthless, hard, and all street hip-hop. Vince’s previous release Hell Can Wait had a certain atmosphere that was rusted, but not amateurish. It had edge spewing out the instrumentals, well, except for “Feelin’ The Love,” which was good but sounded left-field instrumentally. This album, on the other hand, was fierce, and I dug that. The ferocious spirit was heavily evident on the first single off the album, “Señorita,” which comes in with no fucks as Vince raps about the fucks he doesn’t have to give to those who live a gangster-like lifestyle. He’s not overtly preachy with it.

And as for features, Vince only recruited one rapper to be featured on the album, A$hton Matthews. On the track “Dopeman,” which continues the drug selling part of his adolescence, Kilo Kish (a featured artist) comes in with her ghostly melodic vocals on the hook, adding an ominous undertone. The track is then followed by “Jump Off the Roof,” the one with “more cowbells.” The track follows a similar theme with a different tonal approach.

“Lift Me Up” has Vince wishing the heavens to raise him from hell on earth, “Like It Is” follows suit, with Vince proclaiming the crimes he may have committed, the things that may have happened through his gangbanging days. “Like It Is” contains interludes that are precursors to the last two verses. The instrumental is slightly toned down from the rest of the album, but the message is still clear; he’s lived through hell. I’ve felt it through the vibes, and in the end, I don’t want to go to hell.

Kevin Montes is one sarcastically satirical dude. He’s usually at home watching hours of comedy and television, primarily Simpsons. Kevin aspires to be a TV writer, a joke writer, and composer for all things Harmony Korine. You can reach him on twitter @iamkevinmontes to further ask about all things Simpsons.