While most people are going to work towards how they plan on living in this country with Donald Trump as their President, I’m focused on doing what I do best. Which is nothing compared to most things, but one of my favorite things to do is lounge around and listen to music. I’ll spend hours making playlists for situations from playing games, to doing jigsaw puzzles with my mom. But being a young adult is hard in this age since we have so many expectations upon us and I personally don’t have much left of myself to give to the world. And if there’s any artist that I can relate to, it’s Vince Staples. We’re roughly the same age and tend to focus more on the immediate issues like making money, taking care of our families, and working towards our goals. He has a decent amount of content available and shows a lot of intelligence and street smarts, especially in his interviews. But most of all his music is pure-hearted in the sense he speaks on things that matter to him the most, whether it be the neighborhood he grew up in, his desire to be successful enough to take care of his mom, or his distrust for the police. Shyne Coldchain Vol.2 was the album that introduced me to the artist and it still remains my favorite tape by the artist.
Shyne Coldchain Vol.2 was released on March 13th, 2014, under Blacksmith Records, and was produced by a list of people that include: NO I.D., DJ Babu, Evidence, Childish Major and Scoop Deville. So production wise you already know it’s flawless. Coldchain Vol.2 is the 4th mixtape produced by Vince Staples with Vol.1 being the first tape. It has 10 tracks with a short runtime of 29:13, so the tracks almost average at 3 minutes per song. It’s not a feature heavy tape at that either, with only two features: Jhene Aiko and James Fauntleroy. They both do an amazing job on the their selective tracks, but it still remains relatively a solo artist album.
The album takes us back into our days of adolescence and for those who’ve been a bit more delinquent, an accurate depiction of what school was like as a teenager. Whether it be cutting class and hanging out with friends, or hustling to make money and buy things you want. But this, like most hip hop stories of the past, isn’t always a fun and peachy image. As per usual of an African American teen from a rough city like Long Beach, it comes with a lot of distress and growth to accompany it. So you do what you gotta do even if it means getting in trouble with the law, in order to really make use of the resources there are to offer. So joining a gang and hustling becomes a prominent form of lifestyle in the hood and with tracks like “Nate” it shows where the influence comes from. In this case, you might get the idea that having a drug dealer for a father figure who finds success in selling crack and dope on the streets to pay for whatever his son desires, you might consider that person an influential role model. May not be a positive one, but a role model nonetheless, and Vince admits wanting to be like his dad despite negativity surrounding that form of lifestyle. But being a troubled teen seems to be more of his image growing up, which you can find evidenced on songs like “45” and “Trunk Rattle“. You can see the sense that he regrets his misdemeanor, as he describes how this life affected his mother who is the positive role model in his life. He also spends time contemplating reality, whether it involves the action of the police towards black people in the community or politics. The very first track “Progressive” is a very introspective track to give you a little insight on how he thinks on daily. In addition, on many tracks on this tape he mentions his mother in apology, but hopes she understands that this is the life he’s adopted. And being a Long Beach Crip (Or LBC for short) means you’ll see your fair share of violence, death, and everything else that comes with the lifestyle.
All in all the album is very grounded, but short and cohesive. It’s relatable in the sense we all have many regrets during our times of adolescence, including all of the many mistakes we made while growing up. Now we may not all havebeen gang members during our teenage years, but our time during high school wasn’t an entirely pleasant ride for most of us who are unprivileged. Vince Staples is definitely an artist for more progressive hip hop listeners to pick up. He’s as millennial as the word is described these days and he speaks on things that usually accompany our thoughts as of late. He has a good list of good projects to listen to, but I can also recommend this as an album to start off with since it did a good job as a entry point for me.