Monday, March 4, 2024

Lyrics’n’Long Beach: Before you watch The Vince Staples Show, learn about the real, local places he’ll likely reference


Editor’s note: This article about Vince Staples’s geographical references in songs is similar to one that originally appeared on Longbeachize in 2017 and has since been published in other places. While specific lyric references are not broken down and this focuses on The Vince Staples Show, there are similarities.

If there is one thing to say about Long Beach rapper Vince Staples—beyond the obvious lyrical and melodic talents—it is that Staples is a cultural commentator like no other, a quiet observer and, in a very urban-meets-academic sense, an ethnographer. So it was only a certain amount of time before he was offered his own show—and Netflix has done that with The Vince Staples Show, premiering Feb. 15 on the streaming network. (It is not to be confused with his old web series.)

And given that flair for real-meets-heady, one shouldn’t be shocked that that Staples brought two of the most seemingly disconnected Daves—Lynch and Chappelle—to compare his show to. And given the trailer, it certainly looks like a genre-bending, fantastical journey that takes place at a “fictitious” town dubbed The Beach. (We love you, Vince.)

“In 2019, I was fortunate to receive an opportunity to make a television show and after years of researching, brainstorming, global pandemics, and breakthroughs, we are finally here: I am honored to share with you the fever dream that is The Vince Staples Show,” Staples said in a statement via Netflix. “Created at the crossroads where David Lynch meets Dave Chappelle, this slow burner forces you to find the humor in life’s little things. I hope you have as much fun viewing as we did creating it. Thank you for watching.”

While his lyrics have direct references to Long Beach, it will be fun to break down those references and see if The Beach in the show reflects (and likely will) of any Staples’s actual experiences in the city.

Below is the complete, locals-only break down of his ethnographic insights: a comprehensive list of all the places (streets, schools, burger spots) lyrically dropped by Vince Staples so far.

Streets and parks are likely to be a huge part of The Vince Staples Show

Ramona Park

Likely one of Staple’s most common references—found in songs ranging from “Norf Norf” and “Birds and the Bees” to “Get the Fuck off My Dick” and “Big Fish”—this is the neighborhood where Staples was raised, Ramona Park in North Long Beach, sits in the shadow of an oil refinery just below the 91 Freeway and is a continual theme throughout his music. “I’m here to tell the world I’m from Ramona Park,” he raps in the first line of “Outro” on Stolen Youth, an early mixtape from 2013.

The instrumental intro to his Def Jam debut, Summertime ’06, is even named “Ramona Park Legend, Pt. 1” while the subsequent Pt. 2, featuring Earl Sweatshirt, is mid-album. His 2017 album, Big Fish Theory, also has a track called “Ramona Park is Yankee Stadium.” The Yankee reference harkens to Staples’ days as a member of the Naughty Nasty Gangsta Crips (2NGC) crew, a gang that wore Yankee hats and started on Obispo Avenue between Artesia Boulevard and Poppy Street.

Poppy Street

Staples lived at 3230 Poppy St., a street of modest homes that runs east-west through the neighborhood of Ramona Park. It is referenced on tracks ranging from “Trunk Rattle” and “Shots” on Shyne Coldchain II to “Lift Me Up” and “Norf Norf” on Summertime ’06 and “Outside” on FM!.

Artesia Boulevard

One block below the 91 Freeway, along the northernmost edge of Long Beach, Artesia is an essential corridor for Norfsiders, connecting Long Beach to Compton on the west and Bellflower to the east—and is mentioned by Staples on tracks like “Señorita” and “Big Fish.”

Cornonado Avenue in Ramona Park 

Coronado Avenue is a street in Ramona Park that intersects with Poppy Street and runs parallel to Obispo Avenue, being referenced in “Trunk Rattle” on Shyne Coldchain II and “Street Punks” on Summertime ’06.

Long Beach high schools might not have their direct names but could stand a chance at being referenced or mocked

When it comes to attending area high schools, Staples didn’t mess around: he attended Jordan, Mayfair, Esperanza, and Compton High. On “Norf Norf,” he boasts that a “real Norfside n**** never went to Poly, Wilson or Cabrillo.” Has he moved beyond his references to the Long Beach high school life? Either way, we’ll be happy if he mocks the school district in one or another consider he was never really built for structure…

Food and everything else Vince Staples mentions…

Douglas Burger in North Long Beach

Like Louis Burger, Douglas Burger has two locations in Long Beach—and the one Staples is likely referring to sits on Cherry Avenue just a few blocks from his old house on Poppy (with some of the best chili cheese fries in the city, only second to Louis Burger).

And for those that think they know what Staples is talking about? Vince himself cleared that up in a response to a forum post quibbling about the reference: “People don’t know what a fuckin’ Douglas Burger is, so they can listen to this song all they want but they don’t know what I’m talking about just because of the simple fact they don’t know where that is—they’ve never been there.”

One can only pray there is some surreal, Staples-meets-Lynch-meets-Chappelle run-in at a “Douglas Burger” on The Vince Staples Show.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.


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