Review Summary: A world gripped in perpetual misery and suffering.
In a year where To Pimp a Butterfly
is hyperbolically heralded as a clarion call for racial awareness and uprising, Vince Staples comes as a threatening, terse, Beanie Man-free reminder that us white people can't really cope with race if it's not romanticized with hooks and guest features. Spread across 2-discs and clocking in at under an hour, Summertime '06
is expansive yet constrained in delivery; Staples has a lot of truths to tell, and he knows how to deliver them with striking brevity.
In that sense, the stark minimalism of Staples' prose and delivery recall the transgressive literacy of Burroughs, traces of whom can be found on Odd Future alum Earl Sweatshirt's I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside
. Lead single "Señorita" wallops with violent impact thanks to a masterfully placed Future guest spot and horrifically tense accompanying music video. While Kendrick Lamar did his best to push the realities of gang banging on "The Blacker the Berry", Staples resorts to a harsh confrontation of his past when he admits that, 'That's somebody's son but [there's] a war to be won/Baby either go hunt or be hunted
'. On Hell Can Wait
and Stolen Youth
, he came through as a tiring, if not needlessly vicious ruminator for Odd Future's juvenile anthems. Here, he confronts the realities of a black Californian upbringing and refuses to make concessions in the form of high power guest spots or accessible trap beats. Clams Casino and No I.D. turn in grim backdrops for Staples to paint his frustrations upon, with "Summertime" and "Surf" best highlighting the subtle nuances of the aforementioned producers' capabilities. The sparing use of guests works in Staples' favour- as a narrative, this is refreshingly singular in its vision when compared with A$AP Rocky or Big Sean's recent major label releases.
is as bleak as mainstream hip-hop will allow for in 2015. It's not overtly enjoyable to experience because this is a reality that does not call for glamour. An apt comparison for Summertime '06
comes in Larry Clark's Kids
: unsettling because, deep down, you know the experiences are true to something outside of a sheltered upbringing. Summertime '06
is, among others, an illumination on a world gripped in perpetual misery and suffering, delivered in all its relevant parts for a socially ignorant audience.