Album Review of FM! by Vince Staples

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Album Review of FM! by Vince Staples

Bennett Abeson, Staff Writer

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Vince Staples released his third studio album titled FM! on Friday, Nov. 2. The album was released as a surprise album, with no promotional features released beforehand. The project takes the shape of an interpretation of the old Los Angeles radio show titled “Big Boy’s Neighborhood”.

Staples uses this format to transition from song to song and even to fit in some guest features. The songs “New Earlsweatshirt”, and “Brand New Tyga” are short samples of unheard songs from the corresponding artists. He uses this to sell the theme, copying how radios preview new songs. The other guest features are from Ty Dolla Sign on “Feels Like Summer”, Jay Rock on “Don’t Get Chipped”, E-40 on “FUN!”, Kamaiyah on “No Bleedin”, and Buddy, Kehlani, and Vonnie on “Tweakin”. 

The songs themselves are lighthearted and breezy, rarely diving into dark production and vocals. The style of the songs almost seem like they are meant to be a funky mix of the older and newer styles. It sounds extremely pleasant, with Vince’s bouncy flow perfectly riding over funky trap beats.

Thematically, the album is pretty shallow, sticking to the themes of having fun in Los Angeles, but also being careful due to the gang violence and drug use present in the city. One great example of this is in the track “FUN!”. The chorus repeats how Vince just wants to have fun, but the verses contrast that notion with the plethora of violent situations in the city: “One time circling the block, Lil Buddy got murdered on the flock”. Although the themes don’t deal with extremely deep topics, they tend to be clever and have more of a meaning than your traditional rap lyrics. For instance, the line “Nikes Off-White like half-time Michael” from the song “Run The Bands” is a fun lyric with a clever meaning. He is comparing his off-white Nike shoes to Michael Jackson midway through his career, who was neither black or white in skin color.

The production in this album is flawless. It perfectly accentuates the light-hearted, breezy vibe Vince was going for. The lack of hard drums commonly used today makes the beats come across as less serious, which is what Vince was going for. Also, the mixing of the periodic radio skits not only makes it sound like an actual radio experience, but it makes for tremendous transitions from song to song. The only drawback is that a lot of the production is very similar, and songs get blended together the first few times you listen.

The guest features are all excellent as well. For most of the songs with features, the other artist takes over and does the chorus. This was an extremely sound stylistic decision as the different styles of choruses make each song very distinct. In an album where the beats are fairly similar, different voices are one huge tool to add uniqueness. For instance, the Jay Rock chorus on “Don’t Get Chipped” makes the song extremely unique from the others, simply because of that chorus.

Overall, the album is quite good, and I know I will find myself going back to it in the future. The lyrics are clever and fun, and they manage this without being too deep. The guest verses add uniqueness to the songs with amazing but similar production. The theme of the radio station is really entertaining, and all together it provides for one of the most enjoyable and unique albums of the year.

 

Rating–

Flow- 9/10

Sound- 10/10

Lyrics- 9/10

Production- 7/10

Guest Appearances- 10/10

Total- 9/10

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