In all honesty, I was a little nervous to head out to a rap gig in 2016. I had just turned 30 and the passion that I once had for hip-hop and rap just isn’t the same. I no longer need to go to every show possible and nod my head in the front row, making small talk with elitist heads. A good portion of current rap bores me but there is some that manage to pique my interest. Do people even go to rap shows anymore? Do music fans only exist on the Internet?
Along comes Vince Staples, hailing from Long Beach, California. Born in 1993, he first came into the world when ‘Golden Era’ hip-hop was alive and well, with releases by Wu-Tang Clan, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Moon and many more. I had first heard Vince Staples as an affiliate of OFWGKTA and have followed him closely ever since.
A packed to the brim Max Watt’s (Formerly The Forum/The Hi-Fi) in Fox Studios, the fans are eager and in a good mood. Opening strongly with ‘Lift Me Up’, Vince effortlessly ran through a plethora of tracks from “Summertime ’06” and his “Hell Can Wait” EP. He entertained the crowd with ramblings off the top of his head. At one point he rhymed an entire track turning his back to the crowd, only performing to his DJ. It seemed like he still had a chip on his shoulder, as does any 22-year-old, no less from Long Beach, California.
His music translates well [when performed] live, sounding like the recorded versions, presenting himself as an upcoming master of his craft. He is energetic, raw and effortless rolled into one. The young emcee does not skip a beat or word, and his cadence and breath control are finely tuned. Personal favourites that kept the young crowd hype were ‘Dopeman’, ‘Senorita’ and the show-ender ‘Blue Suede’.
If this show is anything to go by, Vince has quite the career ahead of him. His “Hell Can Wait” EP was top tier in 2014 and “Summertime ’06” was ambitious; proving that alongside Def Jam’s No I.D., he is a force to be reckoned with. Rap is alive and well in 2016.
*Words and photography by Prince.
Tuesday 9 February, 2016