Vito by Vince Ash Credit: Courtesy of POW Recordings

Vince Ash hails from Hammond, Indiana, but at age 23 he already raps like he’s lived lifetimes in some of the country’s most storied hip-hop scenes. On his new EP, Vito (POW Recordings), he braids west-coast G-funk storytelling with humid Memphis instrumentals—the title track coalesces around a stuttering sample of iconic southern crew Three 6 Mafia shouting out their own name. Ash’s resonant voice can flit between sinister and sympathetic in a couple lines, and his spry performances on Vito bring out the complexities embedded in his darkest raps. He contemplates the pain of gun violence in such intimate detail that it could exhaust just about anyone, but he often sounds energized by his own urgent need to record every word. His short verses can bear great weight, and though Vito runs only 15 minutes, he doesn’t waste even one of them. I’ve consistently returned to a couple of brutal lines from “Back N the Dayz,” which he contrasts with a gently cascading, piano-driven instrumental: “Was 16 when I finally shed my last tears / And through the years seein’ my peers disappear before my eyes.” Ash’s high-speed delivery makes these words rush by like drops in a flood, but they still underscore how frequently Black Americans grapple with such life-altering grief—and his resolute performance lends an empathetic shoulder to anyone who has suffered like he has.   v