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Fighting to break the cycle of violence is an oxymoronic task, deemed unsurmountable when environments remain unchanged. But for Long Beach rapper Vince Staples, the battle is fuelled by a dutiful incentive deemed greater than him. And for that, Vince Staples isn't going anywhere - not from the rap game or from the heated streets that raised him. It began for Vince in the summer of 2006.

On his full-length debut album, Vince Staples sharply illustrates a realistic and first-hand portrayal of gang life in LBC without any romanticized commercial appeal or taking on a highbrow discourse to its rationale. There is no sermon here. Instead, the young rap artist would rather pull you into the thicket of his coming of age story and let you experience it all for yourself firsthand. We sacrifice the safety of our aerial view of Long Beach, California and continue the journey of Summertime '06 on foot, hopping fences and taking on the role of accomplice through robberies and drug deals, earning our Ramona Park stripes alongside our unconventional antihero, who at twelve during our engagement, is exceptionally self-aware.

It's raining when a single gunshot rings through the summer air as a gritty snare introduces the 'Ramona Park Legend', who begins the two-disc passage through an audacious 20 chapters. Within seconds, the mood is set. Growing up under a series of unprecedented circumstances and following in his parent's footsteps through crime affiliation, is thoroughly described on 'Birds & Bees', before 'Summertime' illiterates the complexities of rapid life-cycles, questioning where Vince fits into his own. "My teacher told me we was slaves, my momma told me we were kings. I don't know who to listen to. I guess we're somewhere in-between," he raps somberly over the murky score. Yet at times, there's a youthful innocence attributed to the precarious West-Coast setting, particularly on the hometown anthem 'Norf Norf', which triggers upbeat house party ambiances.

While unrelentingly committed to his personal story, Vince rapturously integrates dense and conscious-filled narratives of his inner life, packaged vibrantly over layered and unpredictable production executively produced by No I.D with support from DJ Dahi, Clams Casino and Christian Rich. Among 20 tracks, there's no filler to be found, a feat in itself. At times, the production is so overwhelmingly saturated in intricate influences and unconventional revelations that it takes moments to notice you're emphatically turning up to an anthem seeped in topics of racial profiling and the history of the young rapper's criminal family tree. It's a reminder that these matters are casually commonplace to Vince. 'Dopeman' and the Clams Casino-constructed 'Surf', dripping in drum and bass influences, are thumping scene-stealers.

But time stands still for the melodic and heart-wrenching 'Might Be Wrong', an emotional and harmonious ballad exposing the justice system's fragmented approach to handling voluminous accounts of police brutality. "Speaking on the unjust way the justice system is justifying crimes against our kind. Justice is supposed to be blind but continues to cross colour lines," the hymn projects, reflecting current tragedies marking our own summertime sadness.

Yet, the cycle of violence continues. How different will the LBC rapper's Summertime '06 album be from the one experienced by young men nine years later, choking on consistent breaking news headlines containing stories of gun violence, corruption and the viral hashtags to accompany the fatalities of black men and women victimized and targeted by ongoing hatred and systematic oppression? It seems that more than ever, Vince's story is one of paramount prominence. He takes responsibility for the decisions he's made along the way but it's easy to see how influences of poverty, the cycle of violence and one's environment play a momentous role in the outcome of our youth's future. If only the mainstream media outlets, whose victim-blaming and careless use of the word "thugs", could see that.

Summertime '06 is not a reaction to the happenings in Ferguson, Baltimore or Charleston but rather his own coming of age story, experienced firsthand nearly a decade ago, yet still resonates strongly. And it's a story Vince Staples is blessed enough to share.

For the rest of us, be safe this summer.

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