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Meaning of the song ‘ARE YOU WITH THAT?’ by ‘Vince Staples’

Released: 2021

“ARE YOU WITH THAT?” by Vince Staples is a raw introspection of the complexities of street life, where survival, loyalty, and the pursuit of prosperity are entwined in a relentless dance. The song’s narrative darts through the eerie corridors of his past, exploring his involvement with gang culture, the violence surrounding it, and the emotional cost of living within this reality.

Laying it straight in the opening stanza, Staples explains his perspective on the grittiness of life in his hometown. Lyrics like “City going up, so you better bust,” illustrate the escalating tension and potential violence in his environment. A raw reflection of his upbringing, Staples doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh reality he faced as he “wanted to be a thug,” to “get a lil’ bread,” emphasizing the dire circumstances that drive people to street life.

“Still outside, I don’t hide from this shit for life,” here, Staples asserts that he remains present and connected to his past, unafraid of acknowledging his origins or experiences. The chorus zeroes in on the question “Are you with that?” testing the listener’s loyalty and asking if they’re willing to accompany him through dangers and risks for a shot at “big racks”.

In the second verse, Staples extends an invitation to ride his wave, symbolizing his journey through life, with the ominous warning “hope you watching your back” reinforcing the constant vigilance needed to survive in such an environment. He paints a stark picture of loss with lines like “Visit my Crips that lay”, addressing fallen comrades and the lasting trauma from witnessing death from a young age.

He delves deeper into the potential pitfalls of his environment with lines like “Mama told me ’bout you snakes”, cautioning about disloyalty within his circles, and the necessity to always maintain guard – “Keep my shit off safety, You know you can never be too safe”.

By the final verse, Staples’ repetition of “Hope you watching your back” has become a haunting mantra of sorts. It starkly highlights the fact that, in his world, letting your guard down isn’t an option. But at the same time, he acknowledges his own resilience and survival instinct with “Hit your block up, get back, Up first, bet’ not miss that,” underscoring the defiant drive that has carried him through.

Through “ARE YOU WITH THAT?”, Vince Staples offers a candid lens into the realities of street life, illuminating the toll it takes but also the resilience it fosters. It’s an honest depiction of his past, a reflection on his present, and deciphers the complexities of navigating life amidst uncertainty and danger. His transparency, interwoven with the gritty realities of his environment, delivers a profound message about the unyielding human spirit.

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