Vince Staples - 'FM!' Album Review
Out of all the modern rappers currently working I think what I respect most about Vince Staples is his commitment to his image or lack-thereof. On every occasion he makes it his top priority to dismantle the idea of the glamorous hip-hop lifestyle and focuses almost entirely on the music. This couldn't be clearer on FM!, his most direct, straight to the point album that shows his love for his home and the people who live there. In under 25 minutes Vince fits in brilliant bars, exciting instrumentals and even a narrative aspect and what the album lacks in experimentation it makes up for in energy.
It's no secret that Vince Staples is one of my favourite working rappers right now with a clean track record of a few fantastic EPs and stellar albums under his belt, most notably his Big Fish Theory in 2017, one of my favourite projects of last year that combined EDM and Garage with hip-hop in by far his strangest album yet. FM! couldn't be further from that, as the Kenny Beats produced project sees Vince going back to basics with intoxicating flows and slapping beats and honestly i'm fine with that. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited for some more experimental and boundary-pushing work to follow up Big Fish Theory, however with the consistency and quality of FM! it's really hard to complain. At 11 tracks with 3 skits there is no room for duds on here and Vince knows it, so of course he proceeds to create bop after bop and banger after banger with the help of Kenny Beats who provides almost every single instrumental on here.
If anything this album shows off Vince's talent for creating catchy and hard hitting hip-hop and behind all of this is a love letter to his home, California. There's no doubt that California is one of the most talked about places in hip-hop however on FM! it feels different. Featuring only California local artists and using interludes of local radio DJ Big Boy this album really showcases Vince's love for the state in a way that is incredibly personal. Using classically West-Coast sounds reworked by Kenny Beats to a modern context, the album boasts some fantastic features from the likes of TDE's Jay Rock and California legend E-40. Vince even dedicates a short 30 second track to his good friend Earl Sweatshirt on 'New earlsweatshirt - Interlude' which is just evil considering how long fans have being waiting for new music from Earl.
Unfortunately as much fun as this album is, it is important to point out the lack of risks and diversity in these tracks. As is the problem with relying on a singular producer, the songs begin to blend into each other, something that I don't find myself doing with some of his more diverse sounding albums in the past. However, Vince proves that his music doesn't have to be boundary-pushing to be exciting as he sounds better than ever on FM!, utilising new flows and vocal intonations that keep the songs from getting stale on replays. Every part of this album sounds like a victory lap for Vince Staples as he celebrates his hometown and everybody who was a part of it with a short album, packed with bangers from front to back and while it isn't his most innovative project, it doesn't have to be, as Vince more than makes up for it in his delivery and hooks.
Check out the album below: