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Freitag, 1. September 2017, 12:11

Vince Staples, Kentish Town Forum, London

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The show opened with the sound of thunder and rain and flickering lights mimicking lightning, a gothic portal to the world of Vince Staples. The Californian rapper was unseen but his voice could be heard reciting lines about gang violence, terminated by the sound of a gunshot.

Staples is from North Long Beach, which neighbours the west coast home of gangsta rap, Compton. He was born in 1994, the year after Long Beach’s Snoop Dogg released his debut album. But Staples is as ambivalent about his musical heritage as his fellow Californian and occasional collaborator Kendrick Lamar.

His first album Summertime '06 what a startling exercise in LA noir, a nightmarish view of gangland life. This year's follow-up Big Fish Theory questions the possibility of escape over a forward-thinking electronic soundtrack. Staples calls it "future music", a high-tech shift in emphasis from the jazz and funk traditions favored by Lamar.

At the Forum, a big orange screen was switched on after the gothic intro. It spanned the width of the stage, against which Staples stood silhouetted in dry ice, a shadowy figure against the bright background. "I've got a good time," he says. "He's a man in the first song," a party of musicians, "a fierce bassline and tightly wound dance music beats .

The staging was intense and unrelenting. Staples has a fast-moving, insane vocal style, as though pressing from all sides. He said little, but he did not like it. There were no other people on stage.

Older songs were found around some of the best basslines in modern hip-hop, as the net of low frequency soundwaves cast in "Fire", which seemed to drag the listener down to the underworld. "I'm probably going to hell anyway," Staples chorused without expression.

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