Album: RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART
Artist: Vince Staples
Non-Airable Tracks: Entire album, but a clean version is available
Vince Staples's album RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART is genuinely a masterpiece. This is an album that is best listened to from start to finish. With seamless transitions and an autobiographical storyline, the order only emphasizes Staples's musical ability. What makes this album truly great, while seen in many other rap albums, is the instrumentals, lyrical content, and voicemail recordings are perfected in this work. Staples has discovered a balance between RnB-influenced musical scores and rap that can be hard to find.
RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART feels like a dreamscape. The first track, The Beach, sets up the album perfectly. Staples paints the scene of Ramona Park, what the neighborhood was like, illuding poverty, gun violence, and the fear that comes with it. At the end of the track, gunshots are playing over an applauding and cheering audience. This is followed by Aye! (Free The Homies) and Magic With Mustard which I would describe as the quintessential rap track with fun beats and lyrics discussing guns, gangs, money, and the need to survive and provide. This is reflected later in the track Nameless, where a woman's recording is played as she talks about the violence in the neighborhood. She brings up the fact that there is a point where it comes down to survival.
Staples's description of his hometown is both critical and somewhat endearing. He talks about his personal experiences with the prison system and having loved ones behind bars. In his song When Sparks Fly he talks about his guilt towards a situation involving the police and a person he loved. He goes through a few of the stages of grief in the song. Stating that he thinks he hates them now because there were things they should or could have done differently. These themes of guilt and survival are explored further later in the album. Mama's Boy is an excellent example of the opposing side to violence and how poverty most often plays a role in ones' "choice" to join a gang. The end plays a recording of a man expressing his belief that his need to work three jobs contributed to an unidentified person becoming "a monster."
I highly recommend this album, especially for people trying to get into rap or people who are a fan of Vince Staples, Domo Genesis, or even Frank Ocean. It is one of the best autobiographical rap albums released in the past few months. Songs like Rose Street and Lemonade provide a familiar sound, they are tracks with good backing beats and lyrics filled with wordplay. It gives the album a sort of universal appeal. I think this is one of his best to date.
Magic with Mustard
Reviewer's Name: Rose Prendergast
Date of Review: 04/13/22