Vince Staples has a knack for painting vivid pictures of hood life without celebrating the spoils of the bando. The Long Beach native raps from a curious POV rather than boasting about trapping. But to see him perform his catalog of songs about life in the Ghetto States of America isn’t a mopey experience like some would expect. He stays lit—and he barks at the crowd when they’re not.
On Monday night (Aug. 10), the Cutthroat Boyz rep performed in front of antsy rap fans at The Shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn for Red Bull Sound Select. But before Staples served the BK crowd, Brooklyn rap crew Loaf Muzik and Chicago’s Lil’ Herb held down the warm up.
G-Herbo took the stage, rocking a black Polo shirt and sagging black jeans. Herb kicked off his set by remembering his fallen homie, Jacoby “Kobe” Herron, who was killed by gunfire and is the inspiration behind Herb’s mixtape Ballin Like I’m Kobe.
Unlike Herb’s aggressive demeanor on-wax, the Eastside Chi-Town native felt at home on stage, beaming for most of the night and saluting his fans for showing love. He rolled through street favorites “At The Light,” “Pistol Pete Intro,” and “Jugghouse” before closing out his brief set and first performance in Brooklyn with the Nicki Minaj-assisted “Chiraq.”
As the clock struck 10 p.m. Def Jam’s own Staples stormed the stage to a thunderous applause. The slim MC, donning a dark green hoodie and black pants, bounced around on stage like a nimble point guard on the hardwood. As Staples mobbed halfway through “65 Hunnid,” he told his DJ to stop the music.
“Yo, we in Brooklyn. Y’all got to turn the f**k up. We came here to have a good time,” Staples told concertgoers. “All you n***as in the back acting cool, y’all got to get out or turn up.”
Staples’ words caused a chain reaction because the crowd of Budweiser and Bud Light chuggers couldn’t find chill. In unison, the die-hard hip-hop heads jumped up and down, mouthing every word with the Left Coast spitter. The turn-up apparently got a little out of hand because someone in the crowd upset Staples.
“Don’t do that shit again. I don’t play them games,” Staples said to an occupant in the front row. “I’m dead serious. ‘Cause if you do, you gon’ have to fight one of these n***as, and you don’t want to do that.”
The quickie confrontation only added to Vince Staples’ authenticity. Yep, he’s ‘bout that ignorant sh*t, which only made the crowd more amped as they egged Staples on with loud cheers. Vince continued rolling through favorites “Jump Off The Roof,” and the Future-assisted “Senorita,” cuts off his recently release, Summertime ’06. The messages on politically and socially-charged songs like the aforementioned “Fire,” “Screen Door” and “Hands Up” were drowned out because of Staples turnt energy on stage, which accomplished his main goal: providing fans with a good time.
Staples closed out his set with “Blue Suede” and “Norf Norf,” exuding passion in his bars and performs most of his tracks with closed eyes. Like he’s vividly remembering the squalor that he escaped with a record deal. For Staples, performing is a way to block out the painful tales of the streets starring crack heads, cops killing blacks, gangbanging and drug addiction.
The stage is Staples’ fun house. He gets his point across on serious issues while engaging the crowd, allowing fans to keep the struggle at home—if only for one night.