Vince Staples – Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 (Extended Review)

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Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, the fourth mixtape to come from Compton rapper Vince Staples, is so rich with mood and tone that it is truly a must listen for anyone who is a fan of rap, new and old. Heavily associated with the California rap collective Odd Future, Vince has continued dropping solid solo endeavors along with hopping onto other artists’ tracks, providing stand out features. Starting all the way back with his debut mixtape Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, one thing that has always come to mind when I study any part of his musical ability is just how grown Vince is.  He has never felt the need to censor his subject matter, which has grimacing qualities that really show off how weathered and jaded he is. This is a stand out characteristic of all of his music. Though, I personally think that his second and third mixtapes, which were entirely produced by Michael Uzowuru and Larry Fisherman (Mac Miller) respectedly, weren’t nearly as personal and concentrated as the Shyne Coldchain series. This is where the majority of Vol. 2’s successes lie.

Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 is an incredibly intimate experience, and going back to what I previously stated, this is the domain I like Vince in the most. With Winter In Prague and Stolen Youth, the production and vocal styles don’t mix in a cohesive way, so the projects come off as muddy and, in my own opinion, a bit forced. Vince appears alone in the Shyne Coldchain series, and the resulting intrinsic nature makes for a much more timeless product. Anyone with some sort of appreciation for Hip hop and its roots can really get into Vince’s sound, as well as the themes and motifs that are sunken into the tape. As an experience, this project is one of the most cohesive to come from 2014. The stories, mood, and tone are so tightly woven that it’s really tough not to respect what Vince has created. It’s so apparent all the thought that went into Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2. The production, which was surprisingly all out of house for how much it all fits together, is dark, heavy, and punchy, which compliments Vince’s voice, flow, and content. Vince comes out with hungry flows and sharp, meaty bars that hit hard. Really, what I think my praises could boil down to is that the project as a whole has incredible mood. All of his tracks, whether paired with upbeat or dark production are just rife with this grittiness that is such a nice change of pace. Vince isn’t trying to come off as someone poppin’ bottles in the club, nor is he trying to portray a lick hitting gang banger: he is just telling his story. Sure, he may have wanted to kill a man, and sure, he may be paid, but you can never accuse him of pump faking.

Vince has been compared to many rappers through his career, which some could see as discounting the artist’s style as merely inspired. The way I see it, he has his own sound, which some could say is farther than Pro Era has gone. It’s tough to say that Vince doesn’t remind me of some other artists on this project, though. Apart from the most popular comparison to a young Snoop Dogg, most notably I hear a bit of Kanye West. Most prominate on the sample heavy “Turn,” his inflection while rapping and the instrumental he is spitting on really reminds me of the self-proclaimed modern Mozart. Another aspect that some could see as a negative to this project is how hook heavy it can sometimes be. This is something that is tough to justify, especially since the spots where the problem shows itself are so rare. “Humble” is a joint that feels like a speed bump in the track list. The repeating “fuck you” hook tends to drone and doesn’t really speak well to the rest of the project.

In comparison to Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, Vol. 2 is much more concentrated. Vol. 1 is great. It is a memorable tape that doesn’t follow many rules. Even if the majority of Hip hop today prides itself in its rebellious nature, not many rappers can come off as this blunt and come off naturally while still making good music. What I think Vol. 2 symbolizes more than anything, however, is progression. Apart from its final track, “Taxi,” I felt that Vol. 1 tapered off into non-distinct, unmemorable tracks. Standing at just ten songs, Vol. 2 really uses it’s shorter track list well and doesn’t waste any time. People tend to knock a shorter project, but honestly we shouldn’t be off put by a something that, by all means, is more potent. This album has sanded down a lot of those rough spots that I feel diminished Vol. 1. I can see how someone could argue that the coarseness of his first tape is deliberate and completely necessary considering Vince’s aura as a rapper. I am leaning more towards the opinion that the charm that came from the crassness of Vol. 1 was replaced by the much more fulfilling charm that is the result of a more polished end product. Actually, “Progressive II” and “Progressive 3” makes for an overall parallel to the comparison of the two projects. Vol. 2’s “Progressive 3” is from all standpoints an improvement. Lyrically, the word play is stepped up and has a lot more value because of how thought out they are, and the production is sharper and more fitting sonically to the rest of the album. So, as a whole, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 improves on the all ready successful and memorable formula of Vol. 1. Vince really knocked this out of the park to create a real must listen. Y’all should definitely cop this one. It is a project that, due to the care that went into its creation, will stand the test of time.

Personal highpoints:

“Progressive 3″ / “45” / “Trunk Rattle” / “Turn”

Personal lowpoints:

“Humble”

Download Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 here!

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Charlie Johns