Vince Staples: Summertime '06

Cali rapper paints a dark, painful portrait of his hometown

Credit: Kathleen Caulderwood/NYV/Getty

The debut full-length from 22-year-old Vince Staples is an ambitious double album that sketches a vivid picture of Long Beach worthy of director John Singleton — bodies in the alley, ignored eviction notices and the "deadly game of tag" from his days as a teenage gangbanger. Staples flows effortlessly, suggesting a capable understudy of Kendrick Lamar or Earl Sweatshirt ("This shit ain't Gryffindor/We really killing, kicking doors," he raps on "Lift Me Up"). But the music itself, executive-produced by No I.D., leans mostly on harder, danker sounds built from rare psychedelic samples. It adds up to a hard-hitting 20-track portrait of life and love in a mad city.