Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Vince Staples "FM!" (2018)


Ive been keenly awaiting the next Vince Staples project. As a rapper he is a fair talent but on the instrumental front he is rocking a fresh sound that draws in some strong House and Dance music influences to Hip Hop. This newest record FM! has some interludes and snippets of a radio show that gloss a theme on top of stellar songs. At a mere twenty two minutes most the tracks are short and given the repetitive nature of lopped instrumentals this swift record whizzes by. It always ends too soon, leaving you wanting another immediate spin as its infectious beats linger in the mind.

At the surface, the beats took most my attention. Vince puts engaging hooks over the top and his rhymes are tight, often delivered with a slightly slurred swagger. It gives his flows a liquidity as his sentences ooze and the words sway to form an shapely cadence. His inflections are slightly nasal and the nature of his flow lets his lyrics gel with these keen beats. When he exaggerates the words they often morph into memorable hooks. Relay's "scanner and hammer" as "skinner and himmer" just works despite being skewed. Its all chemistry but digging deeper into his words theirs a lot of vivid lyricism skimmed down to a point. At times it can be a dark ride along.

These instrumentals by Kenny Beats pop! Tight snaps, claps and snares bounce and groove off sub bass kicks doubling as low end melodies, shifting through multiple pitches. Between them textured hi hats rattle in fast shuffles, spaced generously on stereo. The space often occupied by samples are a treat of quirky, synthetic spaced out melodies, often minimal, taking advantage of minimalism and the textures available. Its got the grit of the streets, yet can drift to the estranged and exotic. Of course these moods find their way to banging hooks too as Vince cries out to each of the sides "who bout that life" as the calls drift to death and darkness swiftly.

I adore this project. Its all about quality over quantity however its glossed over radio theme feels a distance to the meat of Vince's lyrics. Its interlude tracks are inconsequential and mediocre at best. They fluff up an extra couple of minutes and the Earl Sweatshirt hype track is an underwhelming twenty seconds. With Kanye, Pusha T and quite a few other artists releasing short projects this year it seems like a positive trend. I'm really glad Vince took this approach and the final track is a peach with Kehlani Parrish bringing powerful effeminate singing to the fold. Great record!

Favorite Tracks: Relay, Run The Bands, No Bleedin, Tweakin
Rating: 7/10

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