Track-By-Track Album Review: Vince Staples’ “Summertime ’06”

If you could pick any interval of your life to present yourself to the masses, which would you pick? In his new studio album, “Summertime ’06,” Vince Staples picks an essential period in which he describes as, “the beginning of the end of everything [he] thought [he] knew.” At a whopping 20 tracks, “Summertime ’06” gives insight into how Vince Staples’ 13 year old outlook on the world topics shifted into a violent, but much more realistic perspective through this time period.

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Disc 1

Track 1: Ramona Park Legend, Pt. 1

An instrumental into to the first of the two discs on “Summertime ’06” that transitions smoothly into “Lift Me Up.”

Track 2: Lift Me Up

Vince Staples compares the lavish lifestyle of the rich upper class in relation to his own during the summer of 2006 in Long Beach in this song. One of the most stand-out verses serve to show where Staples’ mind is at:

We love our neighborhood, so all my brothers bang the hood
I never vote for presidents, the presidents that changed the hood
Is dead and green, was standin’ on this mezzanine in Paris, France
Feel despairs cause most my homies never finna get this chance
All these white folks chanting when I asked ’em where my niggas at?
Goin’ crazy, got me goin’ crazy, I can’t get wit’ that
Wonder if they know, I know they won’t go where we kick it at

Vince Staples is known for “gang-banging” in his teenage years but he gives insight on how money has made more of a difference in the ghetto than our current president.

Track 3: Norf Norf

With Clams Casino producing the track, there is no excuse for this song not to be a banger. Like Drake, with his constant homages to his hometown, Staples does the same in this song to the “Norfside” of Long Beach, CA. Definitely a song you cannot skip!

Track 4: Birds & Bees (feat. Daley)

By turning a childhood saying into a smart allegory into how others can’t “f*ck with [him],” Vince raps about a painful lifestyle he is used to living that he depicts as a common pattern seen among his peers as well as his parents.

Track 5: Loca

Despite repeatedly echoing throughout the album about how he runs the “Norfside” of Long Beach and doesn’t let anyone mess with him, Vince stills admits to being crazy over women. Hell, even his Latina girlfriend is featured at the end throwing shade in Spanish on how Vince lives his life frequently out with his friends rather than at home and how he’ll love to be “inside” her as much as possible but hates actually being with her.

Track 6: Lemme Know (feat. Jhené Aiko & DJ Dahi)

Most likely a continuation of “Loca,” Vince pairs up with Jhene Aiko and DJ Dahi to showcase this sensual song about Vince’s craziness over a woman he has fallen in love with primarily because of the sex. Jhené Aiko does a fantastic job of contrasting Vince’s view on the relationship as the female counterpart and warning him repeatedly of it.

Track 7: Dopeman (feat. Joey Katts & Kilo Kish)

A break from the complex feelings of young love, Staples comes back to the theme of survival and making money, especially in this song where he reflects upon his previous career of being a “dopeman” just like his father. Joey Fatts and Kilo Kish are both featured for the intro and hook, making this chill summer beat complete.

Track 8: Jump Off the Roof (feat. Snoh Aalegra)

“Jump Off the Roof” targets the darker side of dealing drugs like problems with addiction and morals. Staples depicts the sense of urgency to get out of his unfortunate situation and “jump off the roof.” Snoh Aalegra, a very good friend of Vince’s, helps connect the bridge seamlessly into the No I.D. production.

Track 9: Señorita

Both the very first single of “Summertime ‘06” and one of the standout songs on this album, “Señorita” takes Future, Staples, and Snoh Aalegra’s verses and combines them to give both a song that’ll go hard no matter where you are. With the line:

That’s somebody’s son but a war to be won

Baby either go hunt or be hunted

we’re given much more than just a bada** track – this is the why behind why many people in the streets do what they do in order to survive. Watch the music video for “Señorita” below.

Track 10: Summertime

“Summertime” shows Staples at his most vulnerable.  By being stuck between wanting to love his woman but not being sure if love really exists, it is apparent Vince is caught between a rock and a hard place with his insecurities and lifestyle. This beautifully made track ends the first disc.

Disc 2

Track 1: Ramona Park Legend, Pt. 2

Unlike the first part of “Ramona Park Legend,” this song is more than just an instrumental. On a psychedelic-like beat Vince Staples and Earl Sweatshirt trade back and forth in a melodic duet.

Track 2: 3230

Titled from his own address, Vince pairs the fast paced beat with bars to match up all while depicting “the deadly game of tag” in his neighborhood which was “used to the sounds of violence.”

Track 3: Surf (feat. Kilo Kish)

Vince anxiously asks others in gangs why they are doing the things they do as well as mourning the deaths due to the art of gangbanging.

When the smoke clear why was the war fought?
Bout time you abandon the folklore
How you rich but your b*tch in an old Ford?
How you black sellin’ crack for the white man?
How you real, wouldn’t kill for your right hand?
On the stand sworn in with ya right hand.

Kilo Kish is one of my favorite features with her smooth, buttery voice that rounds out this dark paranoid beat.

Track 4: Might Be Wrong

In an attempt to understand the rise of murder and gang violence in his hometown, Vince looks for one or several reasons for these injustices. This song does not include Vince Staples at all and instead focuses on gospel-like hooks and interludes made by James Fauntleroy, Cocaine 80s, and Haneef Talib.

Track 5: Get Paid (feat. Desi Mo)

Released prior to his debut album, “Get Paid” is Vince’s second single. An obvious money lover, Staples dedicates yet another song to the greenery that we all love to get paid with. Desi Mo helps seal the West Side drum beat with a catchy hook.

Track 6: Street Punks

This beat is straight images. One of my favorites off the second disc, discussing these “street punks” and how Vince can easily tell between the fake ones and the real “street punks” like what he considers himself.

Track 7: Hang n’ Bang (feat. A$ton Matthews)

Followed repeatedly by “that’s true,” both Vince and A$ton Matthews describe who they are, what they prefer, and what they’re used to doing in their lifestyles. With a catchy hook and a contagious beat, this track is certainly going to be stuck in your mind.

Track 8: C.N.B.

“C.N.B.” is just an abbreviation for Coldest N*gga Breathing. No, not literally the COLDEST, but more like the realest person. Here, Staples establishes how real he is by rapping about controversial issues within his own community.

Track 9: Like It Is

Similar to “Lift Me Up,” Vince dotes on his desire to get out of the ghetto to “make it up to heaven, despite the things [he’s] done” and “make [his] mama proud.” With his sincere verses you can’t be anything but happy for Vince for achieving his dream and releasing this dope album.

Track 10: ’06

The album ends with 48 second clip that almost narrates “Summertime ’06” as if it was just a show that we briefly watched from beginning to end. What’s worse is it ends with a CLIFFHANGER. Why do you do this to us Vince? 17-pensive-face e44eb4ee2f45b2c2ccc6747e0e73bfdbd6afc684

TL;DR: Vince Staples’s goal is to open up his listeners’ eyes about the struggles he had lived as a former gang member and how it made him into the man he is today. Vince pulls off the storytelling album well while still being able to create infectious tracks and focus his listeners’ attention on controversial issues such as class, race, and gang violence.

Listen to: Lift Me Up, Norf Norf, Dopeman, Lemme Know, Senorita, Surf, Get Paid, Street Punks, Hang n’ Bang

Skip over: Birds & Bees, Summertime, C.N.B.

Rating: 4.1/5

Want to get to know Vince Staples better? Follow him on Twitter and watch an “Over/Under” video made by Pitchfork starring Vince and his views on topics from KFC to Bill Nye The Science Guy below.

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