Album review | Hip-hop

Vince Staples ‘Hell Can Wait’

It’s one thing to come across someone who’s seen more at a young age than most people see in a lifetime. But the way Vince Staples lays out his adolescence in his gripping debut EP, “Hell Can Wait” — from a drug-dealing, then addicted father slinging in the alley, to the police knocking at the door, to a mother doing her best to duck them — it seems like he saw things no one would want to see.

Staples is a 21-year-old word-bender (think Earl Sweatshirt) who doesn’t waste a syllable telling a story — over crisp and focused production from No I.D. — about a place with no cracks for light to peek through.

Without leaving Long Beach, Staples manages to touch on universally relevant themes. In three minutes on “Hands Up,” he distills the tension that’s been boiling over between urban communities and law enforcement over the past few years. He makes his points quickly and it feels like a small but potent dose of reality. (Out now)

Julian Benbow


Essential “Hands Up”