Vince Staples will save us in 2017

Vince Staples

Vince Staples only has 356k followers on Twitter.

That may be 270 times more followers than I have, but it seems low when I think about the way he packs every tweet, every interview, every song, with so much power and wisdom. The weight of his words are that of such a high caliber that it’s as if he can actually see into our cultural future, dissecting his way through our generation’s thought-processes and dispositions, never failing to highlight a level of hypocrisy or delusion.

After a series of phenomenal Def Jam releases, he’s become the sarcastic and reluctant voice of our generation, outspokenly disparaging the old way of doing things, never content with following the status quo. He’s even gone so far as to say he doesn’t see himself as a career musician, proving that those of us who actively partake in hip-hop culture and discussion have yet to fully grasp his true, jaded persona. Last year, he gave us a glimpse (if you could call it that) into his handling of fame with the release of his Prima Donna EP. Though his rapping was from the point-of-view of a character very similar to himself, we can’t assume that his own intentions, beliefs, and actions are reflected perfectly in said character. Vince’s mind remains an enigma, yet if he were to read this, he’d probably say we’re reading too much into it.

Regardless, despite not having great commercial success in the mainstream, he’s somewhat of a critical darling, a hidden gem for those who actually stick their noses into the culture. He’s usually got a lot to say, and we hinge on his every word. Unfortunately, he’s been laying low on Twitter for a while. While his timeline has, in the past, been full of witty remarks about cultural happenings or sarcastic spars with fans, it’s been increasingly sparse, save for some friendly promotion and Jerry Rice-dissing. By his own admission, he’s taken a leave-of-absence from the social media site due to what he sees as the negative side effects of such interaction.

But last night, he posted a tweet that has got me in a flurry.

Knowing Vince, this could mean any number of things. He does have a pretty busy year as it is. His Life Aquatic Tour kicks off at the end of February and has him traveling across the country for three months. But saying he’s getting “back on the horse” in EastWest Studios strongly implies that he’s working on some new material. And I can assume that he’s got a LOT to say.

Vince has never been particularly vocal about politics in his music, as he’s more been focused on social aspects and change. However, with President Trump’s new reign and his mixing up of the social climate, we may see Vince tackle politics in a refreshing way. If so, I could see his yet-to-even-be-recorded album taking a similar path to that of Kendrick Lamar‘s sophomore effort.

Kendrick’s first album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city was a testament to the hometown that raised him. It presented tails from his upbringing, stringing together the harsh realities of maturing in a city that’s torn apart by gang violence and poverty. Vince’s first album, Summertime ’06, was much in the same vein. While both albums dealt with the sociological features that come with growing up in such an environment, they were strictly focused on each rapper’s respective locations, Kendrick’s Compton to Vince’s Long Beach. With the release of To Pimp a Butterfly, we saw Kendrick expand his social acumen to include America, and even the world, as a whole. In doing so, we saw that little boy from Compton, who we met on m.A.A.d. city, mature in his understanding of what it means to be black in America, not just his hometown. It’s a parallel sort of growth that I expect and hope to see with Vince’s next album.

But the thing with Vince is that we can never really know what to expect. His unpredictability and intuition make him one of the most appealing young artists in the game, and it’s a mystique that will continue to grow with each project he releases. What I do know is that whatever he does end up releasing this year, it will carry with it an insightful and invigorating message that just may help in carrying us into tomorrow.

UPDATE: So after writing this last night, I woke up to a new tweet from Vince.

Looks like we’ll be getting new music this Friday! It’s unclear if it’s a song or a full project, but whatever it is, Vince is ready to get back on his hourse. Check back with BLUNTIQ for more information about bagbak as it is released.