#aotd is Summertime ’06 by Vince Staples. Summertime ’06 is a Hip-Hop album which features stark, minimal beats coupled with Vince’s socially conscious rhymes. While not being the flashiest or most charismatic rapper out there today, with the tone and overarching themes of this album, Vince is a convincing storyteller who relays his believable experiences and stories about growing up as a black youth in America. Vince does nothing to sugar-coat the many confronting topics he tackles on this album, such as gang violence and police brutality, opting to get right to the reality of the issues rather than dance around them. This is evident on songs like “Senoirita” where he raps about gang violence and instead of making grand political statements he gets to the reality of the situation, not glorifying the act but also not damning it, “that’s somebody’s son but there’s a war to be won”. This blunt attitude also translates into the production of this album, which is inventive and minimal, and fantastic from start to finish. The track “Surf” sports a beat comprised of strained synths and bassy percussion which gives it a fittingly ominous feeling. Then there’s “Get Paid” which has a beat that sounds deceivingly simple but is masterfully implemented into the song as the driving bassy percussion is brought in and out of the mix proficiently. The second half of this album gripped me more than the first as it featured a more diverse line up of instrumentals but the first half arguably contained the more hard-hitting song topics. At times it felt like Vince didn’t stand up with the beats he was rapping over, due to that lack of charisma mentioned before, but those instances were few and far between. The song “Summertime” is a great example of Vince’s lyrical mastery, as it is one of the few moments on the album he shows any vulnerability, revealing his emotional scars to a girl he loves, “don’t leave me alone in this cruel, cruel world”. Summertime ’06 paints a “no bullshit” picture of Vince Staple’s youth, though Vince lacks flair at points, the production alone makes this a must-listen.