RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART review | Vince Staples finds the perfect formula

The technical ability has always been evident, as has the readiness to experiment. On RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART, Vince Staples gets that balance spot on. 

vince staples ramona park broke my heart review


The technical ability has always been evident, as has the readiness to experiment. With RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART, Vince Staples’ longest project since Summertime ‘06 and his most consistent yet, he gets that balance spot on. 

Oh, this is good. I imagined Denzel Curry’s Melt My Eyez See Your Future would reign supreme over 2022 hip-hop albums for the next couple months, at the very least, but just a fortnight later, here’s Vinny!  

RPBMH is intelligent, but not inaccessible; experimental, without being foreign. It’s mature, introspective and downbeat, but it’s not sombre. As Staples’ description of his new project reveals, this album is a story of growth. Chronicling the good and the bad, with an impressive assuredness for a man still shy of 30, RPBMH exudes a genuine warmth that’s difficult to convey. 

Catchy, feel-good, west coast rap, with profound substance on closer inspection.

RPBMH feels a little like a culmination. Certainly not a goodbye, but perhaps the end of an era. It is the sequel to the MC’s 2021 eponymous VINCE STAPLES, thereby already ending a chapter. Then there’s the album’s title. Any longtime Vince Staples fan knows the importance of Ramona Park – it features in a number of his verses and ‘Ramona Park Legend, Parts 1 & 2’, open the two discs on his debut LP, Summertime ‘06. It is telling that Staples has chosen now to crown an album, RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART. 

Throughout, the songs are steeped in California and nostalgia. Throughout, Vince Staples raps. There’s no throwaway songs – not even the interludes. The samples are concise, as are the hooks. Where artists of Staples’ pedigree often feel entitled to throw away swathes of LPs, Staples utilises each and every one of the album’s 41 minutes.

I was slightly disappointed when I saw the features on the tracklist. No Earl and no Tyler – both of whom had been widely rumoured to appear – and instead, Lil Baby…but Staples triumphs in fusing conscious hip-hop with the much maligned trap. Some purists may object to even the slightest tinge of mumble or autotune, but Staples proves it can work. 


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‘EAST POINT PRAYER’, the track with Lil Baby, might even be my favourite on the record. Like the album itself, the song opens with seagulls, before moving into a layered, robotic, electric guitar infused beat, existing somewhere between young Meek Mill and old Kanye West. Vince starts with two intricate verses, and then makes way for Lil Baby who closes it out with – I say through gritted teeth – a thoroughly enjoyable verse.

vince staples ramona park broke my heart review

‘AYE! (FREE THE HOMIES)’ is another standout. So is the already released single ‘ROSE STREET’ – a love song prefaced by Staples singing he doesn’t write love songs. 

Mustard and Ty Dolla $ign are the other two artists to feature on RPBMH. Fellow West Coaster Mustard appears twice, while Ty Dolla $ign appears on ‘LEMONADE.’ The track is nothing groundbreaking, probably the least inventive on the album, but there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a reason the help of Ty Dolla $ign is so often enlisted.

Staples has long been a master at juxtaposing weighty topics with a nimble delivery. Remarkably, he’s only getting better. There’s an ease with which Vince moves around on a beat at this stage in his career. The diversity of the production makes it even more impressive. He’s so comfortable with his flow and that extends across what is, a brilliant, brilliant album. 

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