Vince Staples: A Return to Ramona Park Roots

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Odd Future is a name that became practically ubiquitous during the early 2010s, most often remembered as a collective of ambitious teenagers reputable for influencing both skateboarding and hip-hop while sporting frequent Adult Swim appearances. 

Artists including Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator catapulted to stardom, even — or perhaps especially — in the years following Odd Future’s 2015 breakup. For members left on the outskirts of Odd Future’s fame, however, the group’s title doubles as a statement regarding the uncertainty of their independent careers.

While peers like Domo Genesis and Left Brain effectively faded into obscurity with the disbanding of Odd Future, 28-year-old Compton-born rapper Vince Staples has fostered a successful solo career despite infrequent music releases. 

Recognizable for his feature on Earl Sweatshirt’s “Hive” alongside songs of his own creation such as “Norf Norf” and “3230,” Staples has since managed to cultivate an evolving sound that has grown more introspective with the arrival of each project.

“Feels Like Summer” and “FUN!” proved to be wildly popular songs from Staples’ 2018 album “FM!”. Three years of relative silence drew to a close June 9, 2021, with the arrival of self-titled album “Vince Staples” which was met with no shortage of acclaim from fans and critics alike.

Following his 2021 project was “Ramona Park Broke My Heart,” released April 8, 2022, with both the title and its accompanying songs all stylized in full capitalization. 

Cited as a crystallization of lessons Staples has learned in years past, songs including “The Beach” and “When Sparks Fly” lyrically reflect on topics entailing regrets and trauma associated with past gang affiliation. An upbringing in poverty and relationship struggles also intertwine with the subject matter.

“I’m still working through things and the questions that life poses. This album will make even more sense if you heard the previous one,” Staples said in an interview with Complex, referring to his latest album’s predecessor. In naming the album after himself, a double meaning of sorts is achieved, given the prior release’s intention of characterizing his identity.

From a purely musical standpoint “Ramona Park” doesn’t disappoint. Despite gritty lyrics, “Lemonade” features Staples and Ty Dolla $ign rhyming over a beat light-hearted and melodic in nature. This song and “Papercuts” before it both manage to tackle the past struggles and concurrent tests the rapper faces even after his career reached its present level of success. Joining this pair is yet another highlight; “East Point Prayer,” a mellow three-and-a-half-minute song boasting a closing verse from Grammy-nominated star Lil Baby.

With success in mind, both singles released prior to the full album have grown popular among fans who anticipated its availability. On Spotify alone, “Magic” with DJ Mustard has garnered 9.3 million streams. 

“Rose Street” also appears set to surpass 3 million streams of its current 2.9 million listeners on one platform, a respectable feat given the 16-track, 40-minute project’s age of less than two weeks. 

With a fifth full-length album to his name, Vince Staples once more asserts himself as a confident lyricist while also proving his capacity to appreciate his roots and what they have taught him. Catchy and captivating in equal fashion, the insightful material the Long Beach rapper has put forth shows no signs of letting up any time soon.

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