Spiky, innovative, and damn catchy the Bon Iver produced, Vince Staples – Crabs In A Bucket, reminds us why Hip-Hop became such a phenomena in the first place.
We have a love / hate relationship with Hip-Hop. Hate because the dialogue all to often gets fixated glamourising Sex, Drugs, Misogyny, Violence and other such incendiary topics. Yes when NWA said ‘F*#k the Police’ they had just cause, and yes still to this day racism, police brutality and drugs destructively rule many inner city streets across the globe. However this message is old in terms of presentation. When NWA, Public Enemy and the like first emerged it was revolutionary and transformational. Giving a voice to those who felt marginalised and victimised. However fast forward 30 years and you only have to hear to a middle class white boy, from the UK, blaming out the latest US Hip-Hop record from his supped up big exhaust wielding 1.4, to know, that the message has been somewhat lost, diluted even.
This is not to say Hip-Hop is no longer relevant, or cannot be the outspoken and incendiary force it once was. But in order to do so one of its founding principles, innovation, needs to be more readily embraced. And it’s this creative break from the norm that marks Vince Staples – Crabs In A Bucket as such a standout moment. Its clearly hip-hop / rap, but the Flume like production flourishes and lyrical content set it apart from the majority of its US peers.
Now for my sins I’m white, middle class and live in the UK. I don’t own a 1.4 and I don’t pretend to know what it’s like living in a decaying inner city, or in poverty. However what I do know is that the power of NWA & Public Enemy was their ability to shock a nation with their incendiary lyrical content and create dialogue in the process. However what were rated 18 or R then is basically vanilla now. Which means if the purpose of your music is to carry a message, and carry that message beyond your direct community, then it may be worth changing things up a bit, both in terms of production and lyrical content.