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The best writers freeze specific details in each frame. For Vince Staples, it’s the screen door, swinging back and forth as his father Nate serves fiends. It’s Long Beach in the 90s, the last lingering peak of the crack era, right after Snoop turned an LBC sweatshirt into a symbol of neighborhood pride. Spike Jordan and C. Blacksmith direct a video that captures the slow-mo terror. The hazy brain double takes fresh after you smoke a blunt and wake up to see your surroundings in a different shade.

Staples shakes his head like “what the fuck.” But it’s the same squat stucco box he grew up in, everyone damned and sluggish on the couch in the Southern California heat. The facial ink doubling as a scoreboard for your set. The laundromat washing machines offer the obvious symbol: this is the spin cycle, Samsara of the (562), the same dead-eyed junkies staggering to the door, the same powder being pushed–maybe cut a little thinner this time. The shots of the childhood Staples, stone-face making up lies for his dad, who’d rather avoid being easy prey in the alley.

The police knocking at the door and knocking out the door — the heirs to Bigfoot Bjornsen, the same militarized mindset that brought you the “Batterram.” The tension comes from the deliberate movements and quick cuts, the police lacking a warrant looking for probable cause, the sweat trickling down the cheek, hi-hats hissing like serpents, and the Goodie Mobb-borrowed hook. Paranoia in its most uncut form.

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