Long Beach rapper gets dark in the sunshine on ‘FM!’

Vince Staples was one of the worst phone interviews I’ve had since joining Alive nearly three years ago, second only to a horrible Ryley Walker phoner. But rather than hold a grudge, I’m going to admit that Staples’ most recent album, 2018’s FM!, is another great record in a string of strong releases (Big Fish Theory, Prima Donna, Summertime ’06).  

FM! is assembled like an airing of Big Boy’s Neighborhood, a syndicated radio show based out of Los Angeles, and the record has the sunny, breezy feeling of a windows-down drive through Long Beach, even if the subject matter is often dark. “Summertime in the LB wild/We gonna party till the sun or the guns come out,” Staples raps on opening track “Feels Like Summer,” then name-drops friends who’ve been killed on the street and calls out the ever-present threat of violence: “First month still feel like summer/Cold weather won't stop no gunner/Wrong hat, wrong day, I'll kill my brother.”

In that aforementioned awful interview, Staples admitted that his concerts were not good when he was starting out. The rapper had yet to figure out the art of showmanship. But this is the rapper’s second stop at the Newport, so it’s safe to say Staples has learned how to command a stage since those early days. And don’t be surprised if you hear some new tunes on this “Smile, You’re on Camera” tour; Staples has said he’s releasing three more albums in 2019. Though he might just be trolling you. (Safe bet)

Photo courtesy the artist