American rapper Vince Staples has released his much-teased, highly anticipated self-titled album.
Much in the same vein as his last full length, 2018’s FM!, Vince Staples contains a number of short songs, none of which pass the three-minute mark. In just over 22 minutes, Staples provides a fun, easy, if somewhat slight, listening experience.
Highlights of the album include the hazy and jazzy ‘Taking Trips’ and the lead off-mission statement ‘Are You With That’. There’s no fat on Vince Staples: the second that you get settled in and start to really get into a song’s groove or message, it’s over and we’re on to the next one.
The only thing that I’m torn about is the compact length of the release. The album is completely enjoyable, filled with great verses, and it leaves you wanting more. Was that the intention? Did we wait three years for a new Vince Staples album just to have it over in the time it takes to watch an episode of a sitcom?
But what Staples lacks in extended length he more than makes up for in candour. “This whole time I thought I was being descriptive,” Staples explains in a press release. “But maybe I was being more cryptic. This one is much more on-the-nose. It fills a void in my discography. It really gives much more information about me that wasn’t out there before. That’s why I went with that title. I feel like I’ve been trying to tell the same story. As you go on in life, your point of view changes. This is another take on myself that I might not have had before.”
Stark tales like ‘Sundown Town’ and ‘Take Me Home’ pack in as much descriptive storytelling as possible in only two verses. The album finds Staples evolved, still with the descriptive gift of gab but no turning his viewpoint back towards himself. Complemented by the supremely relaxed beats and held-back tempos, Vince Staples uses every last second to maximum effect. Almost.
Interlude ‘The Apple & The Tree’ almost plays like a parody of the acoustic interludes on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Second interlude ‘Lakewood Mall’ is a harrowing tale told in a startlingly relaxed fashion. Do these stops in-between the music act as cohesive unifiers or distracting outliers? On first listen, it seemed like they gave the album character, but every time after that, I was wondering why this already short album needed interludes at all.
Thankfully the halts are minor and don’t detract from the proceedings. Vince Staples is a welcome return from an artist who has been sorely missed, even if he hasn’t been gone for that long. It might not be an album that will satiate the public desire for too long, but Vince Staples is most certainly an album you can sit with and explore, even if its stories are over before you want them to end.