Review: Vince Staples’ ‘FM!’ pleases fans, but teases for a bigger moment

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

There is no doubt that shorter albums are becoming a trend, especially after Kanye West’s seven-song album stunt. While Kanye’s efforts fell short, Vince Staples’ recent 11 song project, “FM!delivers a strong message in just 22 minutes. This project gives fans an authentic view of the California sound — mainly centered in Los Angeles and Oakland. With features from Ty Dolla Sign, Jay Rock, Earl Sweatshirt, Kamaiyah, E-40, Tyga and Kehlani, this album features a Californian collective.

“I took time off from recording my next album to make a very special project dedicated to my biggest fan and supporter since day one,” Staples wrote in a throwback post on his Instagram which featured a picture of some kid. “He said he needed something that represented him and where he comes from so here it is.”

This is a solid project that is the perfect length for listening during a commute. It has plenty of replay value, which will be great considering the low attention span fans have when listening to music nowadays.

The album lives up to its name, “FM!,” as it starts off with staticky noise and sounds from radio host Big Boy of Big Boy’s Neighborhood, who is arguably the voice of LA. Right off the bat, the project starts out with full energy and harsh vibes that Staples credits to the sunny location of Los Angeles.  

Elements of the Bay Area are sprinkled in throughout the project. Some noticeable sounds are E-40’s adlibs in the single, FUN!, and of course, Bay Area native Kehlani’s vocals on the song “Tweakin.” Another element that makes this project great are the transitions between songs. Not one song sounds out of place as it flows to the next track and creates a strong and cohesive project within 22 minutes.

Toward the end of the album, the tempo changes and it is clear that though LA is the sunshine city, there are some harsh realities associated with living there. From the smooth melodies of Ty Dolla Sign singing on “Feels Like Summer,” to the final track “Tweakin,” “FM!” sums up the whole LA experience the good and the bad.

The album, despite its sonic appeal, came off as a tease. Though shorter projects are more digestible, most of the time the ones that make a greater impact have full-length songs and fewer interludes. The interlude with Earl Sweatshirt could have made a killer song. After the announcement of Earl Sweatshirt’s new project, “NOWHERE2GO,” releasing today, it is a good play on marketing. The interlude with Tyga also sounds like it could have made a huge impact. Though “Tweakin,” with Kehlani is great, it would have been stronger in the middle of the album, or as an interlude instead. Overall, for a project this short, the features were not used efficiently, and essentially did not do much for the complete rating.

FM!” serves as a nice filler album until Staples is able to put out another project. Since his last studio album, “Big Fish Theory,” was released back in 2017, this does the job of satisfying fans until his next big release.

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