Review written by Crystal W. (@trap_duchess).

Vince Staples has been the underdog his entire life. Growing up in Long Beach, California was no easy task, nary a source of expression for a young man with a lot to say. Despite a harsh upbringing (or maybe because of it), Vince has come a long way. From his first features that gained him recognition on Odd Future songs to being featured on the XXL Freshman list this year, Vince has always been somewhat overlooked, when in reality, his verses hold their own against any mainstream rapper today. Summertime ’06 is his breakthrough album. It’s clear that Vince intends to finally make a name for himself.

Vince has one of the strongest rapping voices in the game. His vocal clarity is second to none. Delivery of complex verses carries a sense of urgency — perfect for what he’s conveying. After multiple listens, the production has stuck with me. Veteran lead producer No I.D. and a team that included Clams Casino, DJ Dahi, and Christian Rich crafted the chilling atmosphere. The percussions on Summertime ’06 are impeccable. The reverbs on the drums are constructed perfectly to balance out Vince’s rapping voice.

One thing that separates Summertime ’06 is the fact that, cover-to-cover, its transitions are seamless and the arc is cohesive, but in addition, the songs are also stand-alone entities. Lyrically, the songs are dense and full of historical allusions. The first verse on the album on the song, “Lift Me Up,” gives us a glimpse of the lyrical complexity to come throughout the album:

I feel like Mickey Richards, they feel like Muddy Waters
So tell me what’s the difference, so tell me what’s the difference?
My momma was a Christian, Crip walkin’ on blue-waters
Was fadin’ up in Davis, then walkin’ back to Palmer
A fro like Huey partner, Auntie Angie had them choppers
So tell me what’s the difference, so tell me what’s the difference?

As for the two separate disks, I couldn’t hear a distinct thematic difference between the two, and it’s not clear from just listening to the album what the intention of two parts is. In his reddit AMA, Vince clarifies that disk two is supposedly more self-aware. In all honesty, I feel like he doesn’t give himself enough credit on this one. The entire album is keenly self-aware. Even on his flirty track, “Lemme Know” with Jhene Aiko, his lyrics are mature beyond his years:

Pretty woman, how you function with the devil in your thighs?
I see heaven in your eyes, I love to see you cry
The drugs inside your mind got you thinking different
Why you hiding from me? Fuck your inhibitions
Why you crazy lover? Think that you should be my baby mother
Let me slow it down, think I’m kinda tripping

Summertime ’06 is not without its faults. There are parts of the album that seem played out, rambling almost. His lyricism is condensed, and hooks are not his forté. Sometimes, he just repeats a line over and over as a hook, which works well for artists like Migos, but in an album like this, the habit just seems lazy. In combination with long-winded songs with no hook whatsoever, few songs have the staying power songs his peers, such as Kendrick Lamar or Earl Sweatshirt, have been able to produce. It also makes the album seem longer than it actually is, since each song is so packed with heavy lyrics and distinct themes.

However, there aren’t very many songs that clearly could have been condensed. Vince is simply someone with a lot to say, and I try not to fault him for it. It’s his first album, and he’s trying to show the world everything he’s capable of. He’s done that flawlessly with Summertime ’06. The album has a lot of potential, and in time, I hope Vince Staples will land on the mainstream radar.

Listen to Summertime ’06 below and let us know what you think.