Vince Staples proved unflappable during a short, sharp performance at a sold-out A&R Music Bar on a recent Wednesday.

Vince Staples proved unflappable during a short, sharp performance at a sold-out A&R Music Bar on a recent Wednesday.

In song, the MC detailed his life growing up in Long Beach, California with a documentarian's eye, taking unflinching view of streets shaped by gang violence, police brutality and the drug trade. "I ain't never ran from nothin' but the police," he repeated with icy bravado on "Norf Norf."

This fearlessness carried over into his onstage demeanor, where not even a stage jumper scrambling within a few yards of the artist appeared to raise his pulse one iota. "At least he bought a T-shirt," Staples deadpanned as security hauled the man out. "Thanks."

Considering the sketchy characters that surfaced in Staples' music, including the junkies and gang bangers mingling on "65 Hunnid," the mind-melting dealer slinging on "Dopeman," and, on "Nate," the MC's own father, a convicted felon who served as both a warning beacon and an inspiration to eventually find some distance from the streets, it's little wonder an overzealous fan couldn't spook the rapper.

Musically, Staples favored harsh backdrops that sounded virtually drained of color, delivering his words with diamond-cut precision atop cement-gray beats that hit so hard attendees might've woken up to mysterious bruising. On occasion, more complex rhythms took hold. Such was the case on "Jump Off the Roof," which built on a patter that mimicked someone vigorously digging through a utensil drawer. More often than not, however, the songs left ample space for the rapper to drop imaginative lines informed by harsh realities.

Between songs, Staples paid tribute to International Women's Day ("Every day is women's day," he said) and flashed a wicked sense of humor, giving joking shout-out to Columbus-born rapper Lil Bow Wow and twisting the usual canned banter in unexpected ways. "How many of you are Vince Staples fans going way back?" he asked, and paused a beat. "Most of you are lying."

Opening for Staples, local rapper Copywrite, who's currently putting the finishing touches on a ferocious new album (Blood, Bath & Beyond, due sometime early summer), overcame a muddy sound mix and audience indifference during a tasty appetizer of a set that gamely mixed the profound with the profane. "Dear diary I have severe diarrhea," he spit on one tune, an admission that blurred the line between the crass and the confessional - a resting spot that could be described as the MC's comfort zone.