Album: Hell Can Wait EP
: Def Jam
: Marvin “​Hagler” Thomas

Snoop told you it was hard in ’94. Eleven years later, the drama in Long Beach remains written in primary colors. Vince Staples isn’t just the latest to document the Crip experience; he’s the first to do so with an unflagging militancy. His debut Def Jam EP, Hell Can Wait, features no odes to Seagram’s or Slick Rick interpolations. Instead, nearly every track hits with the blunt force of a stonemason chiseling epitaphs on granite. The album’s first single, “Blue Suede,” is a visceral and cinematic depiction of the violence Staples witnessed, enacted, and narrowly escaped. Canadian producer Hagler scores the horror with discordant and lysergic synths lifted from John Carpenter, near-unrelenting bass, and percussion that sounds crafted from thumping hearts and the reverberating clap that accompanies scorching shells. “Blue Suede” is both autobiography and a valediction forbidding mourning; Staples’ anthemic eulogy delivered to those who know it could’ve been their headstone.