Album Review: Vince Staples – FM!

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Do you remember those nights?

C’mon now….you know what I’m talking about, right? Those nights. Alright, let me get you right. You already pregamed with the homies and y’all riding round town, heading to the function. Everybody on one and once you get to the spot, the place already kinda crowded. You get your cup and pour up. Time is divided between dapping up folks, standing against the wall, making eye contact with the one, and all that. Just when things seem to be alright, something pop off and you gotta scramble to get your folks and roll out. Those summer nights. If you don’t remember, Vince Staples is trying to bring you back.

Vince teased his non-album with a few social media posts but after sometime, he finally came through with FM!Vince glides through an 11 track, 22-minute project that is meant to reflect the summertime with a tinge of his west side perspective and cynicism. What’s new? This incredible infectious bounce that’s on each track. The beats on here sound like they could be played on Big Boy’s Neighborhood and it’s perfect, because that is exactly the point. The famous radio station is used heavily in the project’s sequencing and transitions. You can hear the cast of the show as they help intro the first song “Feels Like Summer.” Like most of the project, the song is short. It’s as if Vince is aware of the shortening attention spans of audiences.

Unlike Big Fish Theory, Vince stays in full LB (Long Beach) mode with the production. His previous effort was experimental and he worked with house DJs and producers to craft it. On here, Kenny Beats is just as much the star of the project as Vince. He makes sure each track is perfect, not only for Vince, but his friends as well. The features fit well and don’t overpower Vince himself unless they themselves are being used as tools in the radio story. In particular, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyga both get time in the spotlight with snippets of their own songs premiered, radio style. They’re placed perfectly so it doesn’t seem like the station was a total Vince takeover.

While the short song lengths may anger some, they fit into the narrative perfectly. When radio teases new music, the full song is almost never played because the next cut is already in rotation, programmed to start before the prior track is over. It’s the most fluid playlist of the year and that short time is reminiscent of the time it would usually take to get these functions. It is meant for short drives and fun. As the track of the same name suggests, “FUN!” is the brightest spot on the album, production wise. While none of the songs on FM! are too sinister, there is still an edge of darkness to them. Just because you might catch yourself bopping some part of your body, there is a sense that you shouldn’t as well. “Fun!” in particular is meant to bang with smiles on all the faces. There is a quirkiness to it that is undeniable.

As Vince teases another project on the way, this should satisfy fans enough as they get ready for whatever is next. It is short, but there isn’t a bad song on the thing. It just might convince you that Vince himself should get his own Apple radio show. Who knows what he could curate if this is just a sample of what he could do. I would like to see what Vince’s neighborhood is like.

Favorite tracks: Outside!, Don’t Get Chipped, FUN! 

SCORE: 7.5/10

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