Vince Staples Faces Reality On ‘Hell Can Wait’ EP
For little over a year, Vince Staples’ growth as a MC has been a sight to see. The Long Beach MC has always been a young rapper with talent, but it seemed something has clicked now. After a scene-stealing verse on Earl Sweatshirt's “Hive,” releasing his impressive 10-track project Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 and two guest features of Common’s latest album Nobody’s Smiling, Hell Can Wait is another notch on the belt for the West Coast MC.
In a broad picture, Hell Can Wait is another stirring West Coast gangsta rap project in 2014 alongside ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron and YG’s My Krazy Life. Compared to his former body of works, Staples' progression shows in his growth of his songwriting, with every new song serving as another dark chapter into his life. As a 21-year-old, his viewpoint of growing up in LBC can be seen at times like hell on Earth.
Take a look at “65 Hunnid” - a cold depiction of the cruel realism of gangbangin'. (“You alone, car full of niggas but you alone / It’s time to show how much you love your home.”) Staples' storytelling ability is beyond his years. The maturity to tell both sides of the gang life with sharp detail is something you just don't see from a young artist today. Couple that with his willingness for social commentary, and Staples is quickly becoming the voice of the youth. “Hands Up” is the rapper's response to "the hunting of gang members by police", which was released during all the publicized incidents of police officers killing unarmed men of color (“I guess the pigs split wigs for the greater good / 'Cause I ain't seen them lock a swine up yet / At the most they reassign 'em to prevent protest”). Even though he tweeted the song isn't directly related to John Crawford or Michael Brown and the Ferguson protests, his ability to target the LAPD through piercing lyricism is riveting.
What’s really fun to see on Hell Can Wait is the influence of No I.D. on Staples’ song making ability. Plenty of rappers in hip-hop can rap, but what takes them to superstar status is their capability of making actual records. It's the ability to make a hip-hop track that causal fans find interesting, yet meaningful. “Blue Suede,” but more excitingly “Limos” show this. “Limos” was the reason Hell Can Wait’s release date was pushed back from Sept. 23 to Oct. 7. It was due to sample issues by Mary J. Blige’s camp. After everything got handled—and thankfully it did—fans get a quality record that has potential radio play. It’s polished and doesn’t take the rap upstart too far to the left. Just like “Nate” on Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, “Main” catches your ear instantly.
In a recent interview with XXL, Staples stated that after working with Common he learned to put in more time with his music and to take it seriously. It’s evident than ever on Hell Can’t Wait. The growth is unmistakable, with each song and new project, fans see his raw talent getting more finely tuned and concentrated. Hell Can Wait is the next step in the maturation process of Staples as a MC. These reality raps have gotten realer.—Emmanuel C.M.