“We don’t make 90’s music bro, we make Vince Staples music.”
Damon Albarn is at the side of the stage watching on and he doesn’t seem too impressed. Calm yourself Damon, we’re pretty sure he’s talking specifically about hip-hop. I also spotted Kano at the bar, greeting him with a painfully caucasian fist bump before heading towards the stage and into the densely packed crowd.
Blazing through a number of cuts from his raw and arresting debut, Summertime 06, the Long Beach rapper has the crowd in the palm of his hand as they leap around relentlessly to huge tracks like ‘Norf Norf’ and ‘Señorita’. Over the years, he’s crafted more sedated and low-key tracks, but the album was made precisely for nights like this.
He cuts the beat and spits acapella on a couple of isolated occasions, rapping with a cutthroat ferocity that urges whoops and screams of admiration from a sea of different faces in the crowd. “I don’t care if you black, white, purple or any of that shit, everybody came here for a good time tonight so let’s fuckin’ go.”
With only his DJ as occasional hype-man, Vince bounds around the tiny stage with a hell of a presence, smirking as he pauses to address the crowd. “God save the Queen, man.” As a rapper, he’s earned his hop-hop stripes over the years (first emerging with Earl Sweatshirt on tracks like ‘epaR’) and is now blazing a trail completely of his own with the power of Def Jam Records behind him.
Going overtime after a late start and constantly speaking with his manager who seems to be negotiating with the guy behind the sound desk, Vince ends with the unrelenting and truly brilliant ‘Blue Suede’, whipping the swarming crowd into a wonderful frenzy before jumping off stage and ducking out the back door.
But he re-emerges a couple of minutes later at the merch booth to greet fans for conversations, daps and a swarm of selfies. He’s clearly aware that without all these supporters, he wouldn’t be in the rapidly rising position he’s in right now. Let’s hope he’s back on our shores very soon.