One thing all reviews of Vince Staples and his music agree upon, is that he is very difficult to categorize.
Jeff Weiss summarized it in Fader Magazine as follows:
“He strips away the glorification of gangsta rap and reminds listeners that their entertainment doesn’t come without a body count and other brutal consequences. Staples has transcended comparisons, but if you needed to make one: he’s the closest heir to the Ice Cube of Death Certificate crossed with the Ice Cube of Friday.”
In a recent interview wit NPR, Staples took on the Grammys head on, explaining how they constantly undervalue and misinterpret hip-hop music in general.
If you are still trying to stick a label on him, I’ll let the artist speak for himself:
I think I should be nominated for Best Rap Album, Best Electronic Album, Best Alternative Album and Album of the Year. I should be nominated for score of the year based on the sequencing of the album. But these things don’t mean anything. There’s no reason why my album shouldn’t be able to be in multiple [categories]. You know, they kind of section us off. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not. I’ll never say that. They started giving out contemporary R&B awards in 2003 and I don’t know what the f*** that means.
I admit, I do understand where he’s coming from. His music explores all those categories, especially on his most recent album “Big Fish Theory”, which has been labelled “avant garde” and “sinister”. According to NME’s album review:
(…) Staples’ propulsive, hypnotic flow has never sounded stronger. His lyrics, meanwhile, are emotionally calibrated for 2017: antsy, alienated and occasionally overcome with nihilistic despair at the state of the world. And his bleak lyrical brilliance is perfectly matched by ‘Big Fish Theory’’s experimental production. He’s always had a taste for harsh electronic funk, and he embraces that creative urge more eagerly than ever. There’s slo-mo techno, dystopian G-funk, field recordings, growling industrialism; abstract, icy grooves more indebted to Berlin than Atlanta.
Let’s hope the weather gods aren’t listening when he sets in the following song: