There have been hints at its possibility for years now, with talented artists from around the country releasing music displaying their undeniable potential before their 20th birthday.
While it feels like they were released only yesterday, projects like Mac Miller’s “K.I.D.S.” and Earl Sweatshirt’s “EARL” have maintained momentum with the help of their devout listeners.
What initially seemed like what might be short-lived careers for artists of these similar styles has proven to be the beginning of the deservedly coined, “new school” of hip-hop since the likes of Run-DMC and Public Enemy shattered barriers in the 1980s. Whether or not the hype surrounding their conception into the hip-hop community was organically based off their craft alone, the success they have produced is reason to believe they are going to continue to elevate the genre.
An artist with less of a catalogue as the two aforementioned artists is Vince Staples.
Hailing from Long Beach, California, Vince has built a sizable fan base in large part due to his collaborative efforts with fellow West Coast-kin, Odd Future. In fact, I hadn’t paid any attention to his solo work until hearing his verse on, “Hive“, the second single from Earl’s 2013 solo debut, Doris.
It was undoubtedly the best feature on that particular album and probably one of the most quotable verses of last year.
“Come around, we gun ‘em down. Bodies piled, Auschwitz… Tools hit like pool sticks, the way I cue shit… Ruger with the pork face, Jewish for the court case.”
Even after such, I still hadn’t taken the time to listen to any of Staples’ past solo projects or even his most highly anticipated mixtape, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, which will drop this March.
Without much promotion, I had heard very little about his studio debut EP released in early October, with the exception of some lackluster reviews here and there. But with the slow season for new music releases nearly upon us, I decided to give it a shot.
Hell Can Wait is only a seven-track release that comes in at just 24 minutes long. While the relatively short duration might be a deterrent for lyrically dense concept albums, it might actually be what I enjoyed most about this project. The perfect length for your morning commute, it is a breath of fresh air in an age where albums can seem so long winded that they struggle to build and maintain the momentum to hold our ears. While short in length, Hell Can Wait is an exceptional release for Vince Staples.
Upon hearing and seeing the visuals for the album’s lead single, “Blue Suede,” I was struck by the reinvigorated urgency in Staples’ voice that I hadn’t heard in his previous guest feature appearances.
At first listen, the album title is explained by production that could be described as what some would imagine hell might sound like. Tracks like “Blue Suede” feature heavy bass, industrial percussion pattern loops, and a high-pitched siren squeal. Having previously been known for little besides his Toronto roots and consequent affiliation with Drake’s OVO team of producers, Hagler is responsible for four instrumentals on the project, including this particular track.
Of course, the real inspiration behind the title is a day in the life of a 21-year old in an environment that Staples speaks of extensively on this project. Frequent references to his friends’ and family’s desire to make a living by any means necessary has bestowed on him a life that may lead to purgatory. As is apparent by the music video above, Staples embodies a lifestyle reminiscent of past West Coast artists; including dominos, Olde English, and bandana patterned shirts.
While Staples does fits the mold cast by his predecessors visually, his music is much more contemporary. Despite the frequent references to weed, 40’s, and guns (or “burners” as Vince prefers), socially conscious thoughts are given as well. “Limos” is an honest representation of a teenage relationship between two irresponsible kids and features vocals from Teyana Taylor, believed to be the next Mary J. Blige of R&B.
In terms of his place within the hierarchy of new school artists, I think Vince Staples still has something to prove. He has established himself as one of the best at delivering lines that listeners will rewind back and play again, but hasn’t done so on a large scale yet.
What stuck with me most on this project is what my impression of Vince Staples has been for some time now. The kid has bars. For as many one-liners he gave in 24 minutes, it’s kind of scary to think what he could do on a full length EP.
(Featured Image courtesy of Vince Staples’ Facebook)