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Meaning of the song ‘THE BEACH’ by ‘Vince Staples’

Released: 2022

“THE BEACH” by Vince Staples is a hard-hitting portrayal of the struggle and harsh realities of street life, embedded deep in the environment he grew up in. It highlights the desire to succeed, the adversities encountered, the constant threat faced, and the grind for survival – all set in a vividly painted backdrop of his hometown.

The opening lines “Aw, yeah, everybody killa / Tryna make it to the top, we can’t take everybody with us” set the tone for the song, painting a picture of a gritty environment where everyone is prone to violence. “Killa” here refers to a person involved in violent activities, emphasizing the dangerous surroundings Vince grew up in. His references to reaching the top and not being able to bring everyone along reflect on the harsh realities of success in the music industry and the cutthroat nature of the streets.

Continuing his narrative, Vince expresses his fear about people snitching and he conveys his paranoia towards his surroundings. His line “I be having premonition / Growin’ up, ain’t had no lights unless it said to check the engine” employs car reference as a metaphor to discuss his impoverished upbringing – the only lights he saw were the warning lights in cars. And to “spark the wick,” refers to commemorating a lost one, often with a candlelit vigil, showing that death and loss were usual aspects of his upbringing.

Staples carries on, “In the city, baby, your first rap can be a murder rap,” indicating the city’s brutal reality where one’s first rap – or significant act – could be a violent one. “I will let you hol’ it but you gotta bring my burner back,” here, a “burner” is slang for a gun, and Vince implies that he’d lend his firearm under the condition it be returned. The term “one up in the top” alludes to having a round in the chamber, ready for action, which shows the constant state of danger he’s in.

The verse concluding with “Now his mama sellin’ plates / Now it’s homies washin’ cars, ’cause he out here actin’ hard” offers a grim image of a cycle of violence and aftermath – a young man is killed, leading to his mother selling plates (likely a fundraising effort) and friends washing cars in his memory. He’s cautioning those who fancy this lifestyle to think twice, as he says, “Please don’t try to get involved ‘less you wanna prove it.”

In all, “THE BEACH” is a raw, unfiltered gaze into the harsh terrain of Vince Staples’ reality, where survival is unsure and violence is the norm. Narrating his journey from hardship to success, the lyrics serve as both a warning and a testament to the resilience molded by such environments.

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