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    Vince Staples - “C.N.B.”

    How do you select a top pick from one of the most consistently strong projects of 2015? Scribbling each track title of Vince Staples' Summertime ‘06 and tossing the scrap paper into a hat, maybe. Another option was to pull up the album in iTunes, close your eyes, and randomly point to a specific song. Hell, even album intro “Ramona Park Legend Pt. 1” deserves a shout out and the only vocals there come from flapping seagulls.

    If the message isn’t yet clear, here it is: listen to all 20 songs. To highlight one piece, though, “Summertime” intrigues because much of its elements differ so much from the rest of the album. There’s still that sense of downtrodden spirits and suppression, but Staples’ voice attacks his words with less aggression. The rapper sounds broken rather than at odds with his environment. Less gritty, more somber production makes it a standout just as much for what it’s missing as for what it offers—an emotional pillar rarely expressed in Vince’s Long Beach world.—Alex Siber