Album Review: Vince Staples - Summertime '06

Summertime ’06 is the logical culmination of everything Vince Staples has done up to this point in his career, a sleek refinement of what was fascinating to the listener and what made him so palatable to Def Jam. Taking all the jarringly resolute themes of Hell Can Wait, Staples effectively stretches the subject matter to its breaking point. If To Pimp a Butterfly was a herald for change, then Vince is it’s antithesis. Kendrick laments the plight of the streets; Summertime ’06 revels in it, holding up a dirty mirror to the reality of the situation, never unnecessarily glorifying and making no apologies for being completely immersed in circumstance.

With executive production from No I.D., the album also features work from the seminal Clams Casino, Dj Dahi, and Christian Rich. Vince flows menacingly over sparse drumbeats, lurching synths, booming bass and a myriad of outlandish synthesizers. The stripped back structure of the rhythms lends itself to a more complete picture, allowing tracks to flow seamlessly into one another. The continuity lets Vince unleash a barrage of verse after verse of hood mired angst and unease. Clams Casino is a particular highlight, showcasing his ability to mix the ethereal with grit.

The albums manifestation sonically matches Staples so agreeably because of his straightforward self aware inflection. Vince is troubled and effected by everything that surrounds him, it’s apparent he believes in change, but his predicament is something that’s endemic to him by birthright, it’s his god given duty to be a product of his environment. Tracks like Norf Norf, Dopeman, Hang N’ Bang, and Surf are particularly unapologetic homages to his irreverent lifestyle. On the flip side; Summertime, Like It Is, C.N.B, and Señorita are all examples of how conscious he is of his condition. Whether it be love, sex, family, or money, Vince expresses the solemn sobering sentiment that they’re all trapped. ‘Hope you understand, the never taught me how to be a man / Only how to be a shooter, I only need the time to prove it’. He’s merely endeavoring to make the best of a dark situation.

Summertime ’06 being his first full length studio debut brings a certain sheen and polish that comes with the territory of a major label; it doesn’t necessarily mean it glosses out the imperfections. Certain songs suffer from meandering without advancement, some of the hooks fall flat and the track listing could do with a slight culling. If you don’t begrudge the minute short fallings, then Summertime ’06 is a wild ride through an impressionable young man’s time in Long Beach, California. It’s about as raw, unfiltered, and exhausting as a firsthand account of the streets might get, but it’s ultimately a sympathetic crusade. ‘Youth was stolen from my city that summer, and i’m left alone to tell the story. This might not make sense, but that’s because none of it does, we’re stuck. Love tore us all apart.’

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