I’ve never heard a Vince Staples song I didn’t like. The tough, nihilistic tone of his own brand of no-frills hip hop is perfectly placed over just about any contemporary production with even the slightest bounce to it, frantically transforming each beat with his elastic flow and nasal cadence whether it lean towards EDM or more traditional hip hop. He is witty, thoughtful, expressive and completely self-aware in his lyrics, which is probably why he has been tapped by so many different electronic producers over the years, from Sydney’s own Flume to Miami’s GTA, to give their productions a sharper edge; hell, even Gorillaz put him on a track and it ended up being one of their best in years.
Staples would make a valuable guest on any song, but it’s his own that standout the most, evidenced by an explosive live performance in Sydney over the weekend. As a sideshow to his Falls Festival/Field Day sets, Staples took to the Enmore Theatre with a live show packed with big puffs of smoke (surprising for someone with asthma), strobes, lasers and a bright orange backdrop that looks like Frank Ocean’s album cover for Channel Orange – all heavy production which rendered the Long Beach emcee as a shadowy figure stalking from one side of the stage to the other, rapping about issues far removed from his adoring audience while a wall-to-wall crowd kept the energy pumping through the entire 19-song set.
The show was heavy on atmosphere, mostly centered around Vince standing alone on stage against the bright orange backdrop, expertly navigating these enormous, heavily textured productions that seemed to have been custom-built for a live setting. The fans couldn’t get enough as Staples set a high-mark with “Homage” and kept it up right until set-closer “Norf Norf”, squeezing every ounce of energy from the capacity crowd as possible; the floor shook hard, and it shook often.
Though the muscular electronica beats and stomping bass drove the crowd through the night, it was nothing compared to just how fluent and confident Vince’s raps were; a thoroughly impressive performance, from the rebellious “BakBak” and snarling “Señorita” (its 2015 music video could easily serve as a metaphor for his live shows) to the melodic “Rain Come Down” and anthemic “Yeah Right” (no Kučka, although she was the support act). The man deserves his place amongst the biggest names in hip hop today, and after this performance I have absolutely no doubt about his future dominance in the industry.
Ramona Park Is Yankee Stadium
Rain Come Down
Lift Me Up
Love Can Be
Little Bit of This
Ghost (Major Lazer Remix)
Birds & Bees
Feature image by Belinda Dipalo for the AU review. You can check out the full gallery HERE.