Vince Sta­ples ★★★

FM! DEF JAM. DL

Mojo (UK) - - Filter Albums - John Mul­vey

Cal­i­for­nian G-funk, 2018 style.

For those whose en­gage­ment with con­tem­po­rary hip-hop is at best dilet­tan­tish, it can be hard to look be­yond Ken­drick Lamar as the pre-em­i­nent voice of Cal­i­for­nian rap. Over three al­bums, though, Long Beach’s Sta­ples has proved him­self to be Lamar’s near equal; an elo­quent, sel­f­re­flex­ive rap­per who tog­gles point­edly be­tween sun­shine party in­vo­ca­tions and ver­ité re­ports from the streets. After 2017’s am­bi­tious Big Fish The­ory (and guest spots with Go­ril­laz), FM! ini­tially feels slighter, not least be­cause of a brisk 22-minute du­ra­tion. The breezi­ness is de­cep­tive, though, as Sta­ples and pro­ducer Kenny Beats con­struct a min­i­mal­ist up­date of G-funk where the jams are al­ways freighted with an aware­ness of po­ten­tial vi­o­lence. Feels Like Sum­mer ar­tic­u­lates Sta­ples’ dilemma right from the off: “Sum­mer­time in the LB wild,” he chants, “We gon’ party ’til the sun or the guns come out.”

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