For a rapper considered to be among the best of his generation, Vince Staples has never given off the impression that he’s interested in becoming America’s next hip-hop superstar. In fact, the mere labeling of Staples as a “rapper” feels more like a dismissal of the man and inconsistent with Staples’ philosophy, as much of his lyrical content revolves around critiquing the current state of hip-hop culture, and where exactly his place within the scene is. In a 2016 interview with Vogue, when asked what he prefers to be called, Staples responded, “Drake is a rap star. I’m a person with a job.”
The Long Beach native has gained a reputation for his tongue-in-cheek observations, sarcastic yet brutally honest social commentary, and down-to-earth lifestyle. Since the release of his 2014 breakout EP Hell Can Wait, Staples has put forth a steady stream of increasingly excellent releases, culminating with his sophomore album Big Fish Theory last year. Co-produced by dance and electronic veterans including Flume, Jimmy Edgar, SOPHIE, and GTA, Big Fish Theory sounds almost like no other hip-hop album in recent memory, as the album is energetic enough to be played at a rave, but never at the expense of Staples’ insightful and biting lyrical content. Clocking in at only 36 minutes, the album is dense enough that it accomplishes what most other albums could never do at twice the length, which is gain the listener’s full, uninterrupted attention.
With Tyler, The Creator. 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 30, at SF Armory. $45; sfarmory.com
Lunice Fermin Pierre II, or simply Lunice, found the inspiration to start producing music through his longtime love of hip-hop and the culture that surrounds it. His competitive career as a b-boy in his younger days led him to start making songs he could dance to. Born and raised in Montreal, Lunice is a true solo artist: He’s driven by singular, perhaps stubborn, vision that results in remarkably unique trap and hip-hop. That isn’t to say Lunice doesn’t work well with others, as his short-lived collaboration with fellow producer Hudson Mohawke as TNGHT remains a highlight for both producers’ careers. TNGHT’s acclaimed 2012 self-titled EP, which currently remains its only official release, made shockwaves. It caught the ear of Kanye West, who enlisted the duo to collaborate with him on his 2013 opus, Yeezus.
Despite that success, TNGHT abruptly entered a hiatus in late 2013, and as Lunice told The FADER in an interview last September, “We knew that there was going to be some kind of electronic trap wave coming, we didn’t necessarily want to be a part of it.” After four years of letting that EDM-bro-trap tsunami recede, Lunice finally returned last fall with CCCLX, his debut solo album. CCCLX is stylistically a natural continuation of his earlier solo EPs, but the tracks are grimmer and stranger than ever before. “Mazerati” sounds like it could be on the soundtrack for a hypothetical hip-hop Tim Burton movie, and the Denzel Curry-featured “Distrust” may be the angriest thing Lunice has ever created. Although he has been producing for more than a decade, Lunice’s creative energy is higher than at any other point in his career.
9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, at DNA Lounge. $20; dnalounge.com