If you've been looking in the right places, Vince Staples has been all up on your radar. It all started with his breakout debut mixtape 'Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1' which featured a favorite song of Tyler, the Creator's in 'Taxi'. While that first project has proved to be one of the illest rap tapes in years, Vince hasn't quite followed the same trajectory as his Odd Future buddies.
Stories of beef between Vince and Tyler brewed for a minute, but the two seem to be mutually respectful of one another nowadays. Maybe it's because people are really starting to check for Vince Staples. A lot.
The deadpan flow, the straight-ahead stare that Vince surely dons when he spits these verses, the complete lack of bells and whistles. These are only a few of the reasons why Vince won't need a Freshmen Cover to gain respect. He quietly signed to Def Jam this past year and announced that 'Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2' is the next project to drop, but he's been spotting up and draining guest verses from the corner all year. Every single one is worth hearing, so we wanted to make sure you didn't miss any. Here is every single Vince Staples guest verse of 2013, ranked, locked and loaded.
Earl Sweatshirt - 'Centurion'
Vince gets handed the more awkward half of this Christian Rich beat on Earl Sweatshirt's 'Centurion', as the drums drag their feet and Vince sets it off straight with, "I feel like Tom Sawyer for real ni--as / Looking for a problem, revolver under the Hilfiger." Vince is only 20 years old, so to marry dissonant images like Tom Sawyer, revolvers and Hilfiger pull togethers elements of his life - literature, violence, and '90s rap-influenced clothing garments -- all rolled into one opening bar. Vince is often at his best when he's threatening people on the mic, but he espouses less of a desire to kill than a need to project this hardbody image in such cold-steel detail. All the lush description is a bit absent here, but the monotone flow can come to mirror not only the monotony of the streets but that of society's attitude toward Vince - -"I ain't nothing but a ni--a, ain't no reason to pretend."
Da$h - 'Aristocratic Anarchy'
Take Mac Miller or leave him, but you can't deny that Larry Fisherman has got beats. Mac's producer alias services Da$h with this spacey opening beat on his latest 'V.I.C.E.S.' project, and naturally Da$h wants the coldest upcoming rapper on the intro. Vince sounds subdued (literally -- he sounds like he's in the back of the booth) and mellowed all the way out. He drips words like syrup ("head wrong, I'm dumb sick / sawed-off, the pump fifth, haul off, your youngest") as he nods off toward the end, and it's hard to tell from his delivery whether he's the one slanging drugs or using them.
If it wasn't already apparent that Vince Staples is signed to Def Jam, it is after his appearance on Jhene Aiko's new 'Sail Out' EP. Once more, he's deemed worthy of a spot on the first song, and he seizes the opportunity to show a different dimension of his personality. The more you hear his verse, the more layers you hear, like the eyes red from crying (or getting faded) that leave a past lover blind, the smoke and mirrors before that, the burning of bridges in an attempt to wipe away memories. All of that is packed into just a couple lines, while his opening bars pour out like a pained diary entry.
It's not a guest spot that we're used to seeing from Vince. R&B isn't exactly his forte, but his tactical ability overpowers any song he's on, and his prominence on Jhene’s opening track seems to convey that Def Jam has high hopes for young Staples.
That ethereal Stanley Clarke sample will get you every time. Key Nyata knows how to freak a beat (he killed the intro to eXquire's last 'Kismet' tape with 'Black Cauldron'), and his latest mixtape 'The Shadowed Diamond' was unfairly slept-on, perhaps because of the snooze-worthy Raider Klan affiliation. But real recognize real as Vince is recruited for a 16 on 'Far' and he drops jewels for the youth about suppressing memories, glorifying the ability to leave the hood, and never expecting any help in this industry. It plays like a lesson on innocence and honesty from a young but already jaded newcomer.
This is dope. Khris P and Reggie are the Kream Team, a production duo so slept on you should slap yourself right know if you've never heard their beats.
You'll notice throughout this list that prime talent attracts it's own essence, so the relatively obscure Khmer Tay sounds nice on this banger with Vince, who delves into being raised a soldier (not a scholar) with clipped phrases. He stacks up the quotables via abstract musings ("Who need the homies when the heater on me?"), but the real takeaway is that we need more Vince Staples over Kream Team beats.
Kilo Kish hasn't made as big a splash as she did with her first popular track, 'Navy', but her last project 'k+' came with an art show and a dizzying array of guest artists like Flatbush Zombies, Earl Sweatshirt, A$AP Ferg, and Childish Gambino.
'trappin' is produced by Earl and Kish and features Vince bragging about how he's perfected his craft faster than anyone ever has before him. Ostrich for breakfast, G-Unit clothing, and "extras like electives" are all jewels on here. Just as entertaining is Vince and Earl's back-and-forth joke session at the end of the track, which seems par for the course with these fools.
A$ton Matthews - 'Plottin'
"Hug the hammer like a proud parent". Right off the bat, Vince juxtaposes gun violence and parental love, overlapping a menacing instinct with a loving one. The way he stitches seemingly disparate thoughts together like that is what makes him such an engaging, visceral rapper.
A theatric beat by Evidence is the backdrop for two out of the three Cutthroat Boyz to do their murderous MC thing, but Vince shows up A$ton with insight that cuts right to the heart of the issue: "Round here, life too hard to be God fearing."
The Jet Age of Tomorrow feat. Domo Genesis - 'Wonderful World'
Blink twice and you may have missed The Jet Age of Tomorrow's last project, 'The Jellyfish Mentality', with guests like Earl Sweatshirt, Speak, and Casey Veggies. The Odd Future-affiliated band is definitely spaceship coupe music, and on 'Wonderful World' a soothing Clara Hill sample gets drowned in Stomp-like warehouse percussion that seethes up from the depths of your murky subconscious. Domo drops a verse that shows his continuing improvement on the mic, but where Domo spells out his high hopes, Vince gives glimpses of the life he aspires to with nonstop quotables - "the pain that money bring is never outweighed by the feeling of getting paid."
Vince doesn't have time to be spiritual; he's too busy getting after this money - "But I don't do church 'cause the seats ain't heated / and the roof don't drop so my soul feel cheated." He's living for the now but he's still a deep thinker, and one that's prone to contradiction. Church won't get him what he's looking for, but girls can mess with any boss' head: "Do she love me for my money? Do she love me for my soul?" He can't help but to be human, even though his placid tone floats above the world with slicing clarity. His raps are distilled vodka in a frosty shot glass, and he might smash you in the face with it after he downs the alcohol, but at least you'll learn something from him while you two drink together.
Wanderlea's deeply soulful 'Lindo' sample goes for another spin on the latest Joey Fatts project, 'Chipper Jones Vol. 2', as we dive into the mind of a ruthless drug dealer willing to peddle to daughters and mamas. Vince makes it clear that money is the motive, but slinging dope has other parallels to rap - "Never focused on the image, my n--gas just sought profit." That's his style in a seashell, all about efficacy without any adornment. With rhymes like heron packs, it's hard to see people crowning any other rapper as next up if they don't mention Vince Staples, but he might face some obstacles if he doesn't jibe with all the marketing that's par for the course of being a big rapper nowadays.
Boldy James - 'Give Me a Reason'
After the 'Shyne Coldchain' mixtape put Vince on, some listeners claimed that he was starting to rap like Boldy James, known for his marble-mouthed, slang-heavy street tales. The comparison was easily remedied with Vince's appearance on Boldy's standout album, 'My 1st Chemistry Set', as Staples creeps over a crawling, narcotic guitar loop rigged by the master Alchemist. When Vince tiptoes with, "Got a black bitch from Bompton down to spank hoes", the slow-flow he chops up makes the verse fold like dominos in perfect unison. There's a lot to catch in his verse, and the feature breathes in a way that Boldy's verses don't -- it isn't doubletime, but it's lively and on edge, like he's looking out the window with a rifle while he's spitting.
Earl Sweatshirt Feat. Casey Veggies - 'Hive'
The apotheosis of Vince Staples raps (including almost every bit of 'Stolen Youth'), 'Hive' was his best look of 2013. It's so good that you have to wonder if Earl rewrote his verses once he heard Vince destroy it. Sweatshirt must have a big heart.
When the video premiered, everyone had the same thing to say - 'Cot damn Vince killed it!' It was the 'Renegade' of 'Doris', spilling into the margins like Cappadonna on 'Winter Warz'. It was Vince's official stepping out party to tap the world on the jaw and let people know just how vicious he can be. "Ruger with the pork face, Jewish for the court case / here to save you n--gas from the sorbet" sounds straight out of nonsensical Ghostface and Lord Superb sessions for 'Supreme Clientele'. No one is f--king with this kid at his sharpest.