Vince Staples Walks Through ‘Ramona Park’ With Livestreamed Retrospective Set at the Fonda in L.A.08/25/2022
Doing a rare one-off show Tuesday night at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, hip-hop star Vince Staples shared his thoughts on Capitol Records’ controversial AI rapper FN Meka, who was officially declared dropped from the company earlier in the day after the project came under fire due to accusations of racial stereotyping.
“You seen that little AI rapper moonwalking and saying [the N-word]? It’s over with,” he jokingly said. “In a couple years, we’re all gonna be AIs — they’re gonna get rid of me.”
That hardly seemed likely to be the case any decade soon, as the Long Beach rapper took center stage to perform a 90-minute retrospective set that took fans on a musical walk in the park, playing hits from his entire discography to date, as well as sharing some of the stories behind the material.
The show was livestreamed on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch, billed as “Vince Staples: A Walk Through Ramona Park,” with a pre-show conversation and interview moderated by hosts Rob Markman and Wayno. Staples gave some insight into the production behind the performance and its spontaneous announcement.
“I always appreciate getting in front of the people and doing shows, we had about three or four days [to prepare], so we did what we could do,” Staples said.
But when the curtains raised on the Fonda’s center stage, Staples geared into performance mode — and began to show fans why real showmanship is entirely irreplaceable. Fans were greeted with physical set pieces, including a replica of a flowers store called “Ramona’s Roses” with extravagant flower arrangements flanking it. Ramona Park is the neighborhood in Long Beach where Staples is from, and has been a central theme and place of reference throughout his body of work.
Opening the night with cuts from his latest record “Ramona Park Broke My Heart” such as “Aye! (Free the Homies)” and “Lemonade,” with their indelible West Coast bounce, set a high-energy crowd tone for the top of the show. Thrown in the mix were tracks from his 2021 self-titled record, including “The Shining” and “Sundown Town,” which mellowed out the mood before he addressed the crowd for the first time of the night.
Talking over the instrumental of “The Apple & the Tree” interlude track, Staples shared the story to the crowd of the conception of his 2021 record, revealing that he maxed out the budget provided to him by his label prior to the pandemic.
“We started paying out the pocket after we ran through [the budget], and I was at my homie Kenny Beats’ house, and told him that I’d figure something out,” Staples said. “And he said, ‘Nah man, for what? Everything we got is right here.’ And in, like, two to five weeks, we had this project called ‘Vince Staples.’”
“Kenny made me love this shit again for a little bit,” he said, sharing appreciation for the 31-year-old beatmaker who executive-produced his self-titled project.
After receiving a bouquet of roses from a fan in the crowd, Staples took fans back to the beginning, performing “Outro,” the closing number to his collaborative 2013 “Stolen Youth” mixtape with late artist and friend Mac Miller.
Staples proceeded to run through a reflective journey of his discography, performing songs like “Blue Suede” off his 2014 EP “Hell Can Wait,” crowd-pleasers such as “Norf Norf” and “Señorita” off his 2015 full-length debut “Summertime ’06,” and cuts off his 2017 experimental electronic record “Big Fish Theory,” including “745” and “Yeah Right.” Staples acknowledged some of the critical backlash he received for branching out with his sound on that record before jumping into the aptly-titled 2018 loose single “Get The F-ck Off My D-ck.”
He finished the 90-minute set with “Ramona Park” standouts “When Sparks Fly” and “Magic,” addressing the crowd for a final time, saying that he hasn’t felt compelled to go on an extensive tour and wanted to keep the one-off performance smaller and intimate to allow fans to be able to attend. The curtains on the center stage raised as the instrumental to “The Blues” blared, a fulfilling career retrospective performance for Staples in the books.
Staples released his self-titled record in July 2021 through Motown and Blacksmith Records. His follow-up record was released in April. He recently opened for Tyler, the Creator’s “Call Me If You Get Lost” tour alongside Kali Uchis and Teezo Touchdown.
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