Gangster rap has recently become flooded by a wave of barely-legal gun-toting emcees. Most of them are from the south side of Chicago, but the West Coast has its own buzzing hive of thug rappers. Cutthroat Records’ most talked about artist fits right in to this world. Mix half a gallon of angry, a quarter Long Beach thug, and two-thirds intelligent, with the whole thing of Chemical X, and you get Vince Staples. Three years of exponential improvement have taken us from the hyper-active, sporadic first installment to the Shyne Coldchain series to the sharp, clear volume two. The difference is as clear as watching movies your grandmother saw as a child right before watching the last Transformers movie.
One of violent rap’s biggest defenses is that it’s simply a reporting of the state of life in the rapper’s surroundings, and Vince records his in movie quality. All of the songs allow us a glimpse into some aspect of Vince’s life. “Nate”, a stark song about his father, begins with the brutal lines, “As a kid all I wanted was to kill a man/Be like my daddy friends hoppin out that minivan.” This showcase of his past can only be directed by Vince himself. An autobiography told in cold, gritty verses, no one else can recreate the tales spun on Shyne Coldchain vol. 2. In an uncommon minimalist maneuver, Staples completely rejects features from other hip-hop artists. Instead, he only features two singers, Jhené Aiko singing the gangster chorus of “Oh You Scared”, and James Fauntleroy on “Nate.”
The bulk of the mixtape’s production is handled by the legend, No ID. If at any point you think you’re listening to the soundtrack for a street fight in a futuristic back alley in your favorite anime, or the ending of an afro-punk cowboy video game, you know the reason. The remaining production is just as good, with Scoop DeVille and Evidence & DJ Babu holding their own on the side like Vegeta trying to fight Frieza.
All ten tracks slap harder than Tichina Arnold on the set of Everybody Hates Chris. If you’re looking for pop influenced, radiofriendly, substance devoid “hits”, stay far away from Shyne Coldchain. This is the music Griselda played doing drive bys on mopeds. This is the music you pistol whip political prisoners to. This is the music you wrestle a polar bear to. I can’t stress this enough, Shyne Coldchain vol. 2 is intelligent lyrical violence over dark, passionate instrumentals.
If you haven’t heard it yet, head over here. If you don’t like it, we’ll give you a full refund.
© 2014, @BWyche. All rights reserved.