Vince Staples Credit: Courtesy of the artist

In current hip-hop, Vince Staples is without parallel when it comes to sneering wit. The Los Angeles MC’s concise 2018 Def Jam dispatch, FM!, is a colorful, subversive assessment of contemporary culture—and he’s reportedly set to follow it with four full-length albums later this year. Regardless of Staples’s lyrical abundance and profundity, there aren’t too many performers in any genre with the dark waggishness to juxtapose tracks called “Fun!” and “No Bleedin”—the latter of which features Kamaiyah talking about jumping into some undefined abyss. It might not be a direct callback so much as a sturdy pronouncement of feeling, but “Jump off the Roof,” a cut from Staples’s 2015 Summertime ’06, explores a similar escape plan. His songs often center on characters wading through disillusionment, and at some point on every release, a sense of weariness closes in; a tired-sounding Staples even opens his 2016 EP Prima Donna with a rendition of “This Little Light of Mine” punctuated with a gunshot. On FM!, that hopelessness is just disguised better, or at least differently. It’s almost as if Staples occasionally works these narratives to show that he’s exploring life on some previously unrealized plane of critical thought—one that most people can’t even conceive of.   v