Long Beach Strikes Back

We have the misogyny, homophobia, and horrorcore of Odd Future to thank for the revenge of Long Beach. Vince Staples felicitous, or random meeting with Syd the Kid (Odd Future’s DJ) sealed the deal, him and Earl would go on to record “epaR”, a pretty horrifying song about rape and somehow become the internets favorite new rappers. Earl and Vince both have disavowed the song by now but its ironic that that’s the song that gave Vince the opportunity to project his voice into the world. You wouldn’t think he would have that opportunity if you knew him a year or two prior sleeping on his friends couch in North Long Beach.

The story of how Staples found himself there is an entirely different one. He was a good student, in his raps you can feel out his intelligence, and he has a photographic memory. Some people are still living in the 1950’s though. At Mayfair High School, a majority white school Staples mom chose to keep him out of trouble, he was kicked out after being caught with a stolen phone. Funny thing is the kid whose phone it was said that Staples didn’t steal it, as well as multiple other witnesses. The school also alleged that he was an active gang leader, thats’s their language not mine, a thirteen year old gang leader. That’s even more comical. From there Staples bright future as a basketball playing college kid went dark. He moved to Atlanta for a year or two, and came back to find that his mother who had been battling cancer was in an even worse condition. That’s how he ended up sleeping on his friend’s couch in North Long Beach.

Drugs, gangs, friends dying, a mother sick with cancer, and a father in jail. That’s when Vince’s friend Dijon Sambo took him over to meet Syd the Kid. They were instantly cool, and Earl had a safe place to sleep, the Odd Future Studio. That’s when he started to make music as a form of catharsis. Vince had and has all the source material to really comment on our fucked up society, its blind eye toward the inner cities and denial that the hell lived out there is a result of governmental policy and institutional racism. Vince knows this, he’s lived it, and he’s in a position to have his voice heard now. He won’t squander the opportunity. On “Like It Is” he raps, “No matter what we grow into, we never gon’ escape our past,” speaking both about individual growth and the growth of our nation. His rhymes bring a realism to rap that has been missing for years, a cold and hard reality is presented. There’s no more gin n’ juice left at the party, only a few people deep in conversation. Vince Staples is one of them.


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