Lyrics’n’Long Beach: The Vince Staples Tour of The LBC • Long Beach Post

There once was a list, written by a man that I am fearful hasn’t even been to SoCal let alone Long Beach and LA, who wanted to give a tour by way of Vince Staples lyrics.


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It failed.

No one calls the 91 the Artesia or Gardena Freeway; it’s just the 91.

There is actually a Louis Burger in Long Beach (Louis Burger III)—not just one in Compton (Louis Burger II)—so it is unclear which Staples is specifically referring to in “Norf Norf.”

Also, the entirety of the song “Norf Norf” is about North Long Beach—not just the high schools Staples went to (or didn’t go to).

Note: the author’s page said he was apparently born and raised in Los Angeles. That’s… Disturbing.

Even more, the reality with the places Vince Staples discusses is that they’re real. They’re not tourist spots, Instagram moments, or places to meander because you like hip hop. They’re the places that defined what was ultimately a complicated, violent, and confusing childhood for a talented MC.

Even more? He’s an “urban ethnographer,” in the words of fellow writer Sarah Bennett, “giving deadpan descriptions of his experiences and observations, often dropping facts and knowledge with a wryness that could easily go over the head of anyone outside his inner circle.”

Or, as Staples himself puts it on “Street Punks”: “I’m the only conversation if you speaking up on Long Beach.”

Ramona Park

The place where Staples was raised, Ramona Park in North Beach straddles the 91 and is a continual theme throughout his music. The instrumental intro to his Summertime ’06 album is even named “Ramona Park Legend, Pt. 1” while the subsequent Pt. 2, featuring Earl Sweatshirt, is mid-album.

On his latest album, Big Fish Theory, he has a track that, though the lyrics never call it out by name, it’s clear in the title: “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 originated in the early of 90s along Obispo Ave. between Artesia Blvd and Poppy Street. (All three are referenced below.)

  • “Outro” from Stolen Youth

I’m here to tell the world I’m from Ramona Park/
Diving in the deep water like I know the sharks…

  • “Norf Norf” on Summertime ’06

We Crippin’, Long Beach City, pay a visit
Park Ramona, Pop block the corner/
Givin’ hell ’til it’s frozen over, I ain’t never ran from nothin’…

  • “Birds & Bees” on Summertime ’06

I shot your child, so what, you know we wildin’ after dark/
The sun come down and guns come out, you know Ramona Park…

  • “Big Fish” on Big Fish Theory

Ramona, I was round that corner/
Still down, I’m a Norf Norf soldier…

Poppy St.

Staple lived at 3230 Poppy Street which runs directly through the neighborhood of Ramona Park

  • “Trunk Rattle” on Shyne Coldchain II

At apartments we used to loot, them poppy niggas’ll shoot/
Homies taught me 2N’s ain’t need no friends…

  • “Shots” on Shyne Coldchain II

Niggas die off of Poppy street/
Bet my mama vouch, they drive by/
We don’t run inside, bitch, we shoot it out…

  • “Lift Me Up” from Summertime ’06

Man, I breathe in, bleed this, Poppy Street—I shot them guns ’cause talk is cheap/
Bow your head and pray, okay, now walk wit’ me…

  • “Norf Norf” on Summertime ’06

How I’m Crippin’ where I’m livin’, come and follow me/
Pistol poppin’, Poppy Street (Poppy Street)…

  • “3230” on Summertime ’06

3230 Poppy St, we ain’t chasin’, they brought the beef/
Used to the sounds of violence, my neighbors ain’t never call police…

  • “Crabs in a Bucket” on Big Fish Theory

Where’s your moxie? Ain’t you from Poppy?/
Young man, you not actin’ too cocky…

Artesia Blvd. in North Long Beach

Lining the 91 and the northern-most edge of Long Beach, Artesia is an essential corridor for Norfsiders.

  • “Humble” on Shyne Coldchain II

Riding down 7 Street, looking for your second son/
Found him on Artesia with a Yankee hat and loaded gun…

  • “Señorita” on Summertime ’06

Fuck ya dead homies, run ya bread homie/
Got some lead for me, I’m on Artesia…

  • “Big Fish” on Big Fish Theory

Gun squeezing, I’m a real Artesian…

Lueders Community Park in Compton

  • “3230” from Summertime ’06 (also makes reference to Optimal Christian Academy in Compton, the “best school I ever went to” according to Staples).

Seventh grade, I went to OCA, hoopin’ up at Lueders/
With my Ru from Campanella we was crashin’ shit together…

Cornonado Ave. in Ramona Park 

Coronado Avenue is a street in Ramona Park that intersects with Poppy Street and runs parallel to Obispo Avenue.

  • “Trunk Rattle” on Shyne Coldchain II

Been to hell and church and back, all in Granny’s Cadillac/
Matter fact she had that Eldorado parked on Coronado…

  • “Street Punks” on Summertime ’06

You ain’t never caught a body, know it cause you talkin’ ’bout it/
Catch me off of Coronado…

Market St. in North Long Beach

  • “3230” on Summertime ’06

Got this bitch that live off of Market that’s down to hold the heat/
Turnin’ water and power off, got us impatient, powered up…

91 Freeway in North Long Beach

  • “Loca” on Summertime ’06

I’m tryna to have a good time this evening/
91 Freeway, eastbound, speedin’/
Late night but the face right, I need it…

710 Freeway through Long Beach

  • “Intro” from Stolen Youth

Could’ve been a bum, broke sleeping by the 710/
17 dropped out, knew I had to make a way…

Downey Ave. in Ramona Park 

Here’s how Rap Genius breaks down Staples’ use of Downey Ave.: “Downey Ave. was just a stones throw away from Vince’s home, a place where “niggas never had a shot unless you talking .38,” and Vince experienced death first hand.

  • “Norf Norf” on Summertime ’06

Man down, Downey Ave and get shaded/
Take a nigga mind off that/
We can dip, fuck in the whip, slide right back in the function…/

The 22 Line on Long Beach Transit

Speaking of Downey Ave., the 22 Line on Long Beach Transit runs Cherry Ave./Downey Ave. in North Long Beach.

  • “Big Fish” on Big Fish Theory

Reminiscin’ sitting in that Benz/
Of the 22 bus stop way back when/

With the 22, 5 shot eyes on scan…

Linden Ave.

  • “Blue Suede” from Hell Can Wait EP

Long road to the riches, bravos from the bitches/
Coulda been a felon selling nickels off of Linden…

Orizaba Ave.

  • “Killin’ Y’all” from Stolen Youth

Under where they took us undercovers parked on Orizaba/
Dogs up in the yard of the abandoned where we hide the choppers…

Obispo Ave. in Ramona Park

  • “Fantoms” from Stolen Youth

A 2014 Benz with the low jack, Pirellis’s and the pistol stack/
Riding down Obispo Ave, thinkin’ bout the bus days/
Never goin’ back to that, checks be coming back-to-back…

When it comes to high schools, Staples didn’t fuck around: he attended Jordan, Mayfair, Esperanza, and Compton High (which is why he drops on “Norf Norf” that a “real Norfside nigga never went to Poly, Wilson or Cabrillo”).

Poly High School

  • “Outro” from Stolen Youth

Bitches say the shows is heaven sitting in the front row/
Turned a couple Poly High games to the gun show…

Wilson High School

  • “Outro” from Stolen Youth

Turned a couple Wilson High gangs to the track meet/
You be in to rap beef cause you ain’t never have beef…

Jordan High School

  • “Fantoms” from Stolen Youth

Long Beach legend, Jordan kick me out/
If you from the city, that should tell you what I’m really ’bout…

Compton High

  • “Nate” on Shyne Coldchain II

Football was cornerback, never made a game I played for Compton High/
But my daddy was the man that would be suicide/
Picked me up from visitation in the newest ride…

Douglas Burger in North Long Beach

Like Louis Burger mentioned below, Douglas Burger has two locations in Long Beach—and the one Staples is likely referring to sits on Cherry Ave. just above 61st. Some bomb ass chili cheese fries (almost as good as Louis Burger).

And for those that think they know what Staples is talkin’ about but don’t? Well, I’ll just have Vince himself clear that up: “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.”

  • “Señorita” on Summertime ’06

We crabs in a bucket, he called me a crab/
So I shot at him in front of the Douglas/
I cannot be fucked with, we thuggin’ in public…

Louis Burger in Long Beach and Compton

  • “Norf Norf” on Summertime ’06

In the hood, like a dollar sweet tea or a Louis Burger…

LBPD

Staples loves mockin’ the PD—hell, “Norf Norf” is an entire anthem about running from the badge and being scared of nothing else. His social commentary is done with wit and when it is combined with the man’s sheer linguistic talent, he mocks everything from cops doing cocaine to racial profiling.

  • “Hands Up” from Hell Can Wait EP

North Division tryin’ to stop my blackness/
I’m watchin’ for them badges when out in traffic…

  • “Blue Suede” from Hell Can Wait EP

5-0 fucking with the yayo too/
L-B-P-D get sprayed on too…

Calipatria State Prison

Definitely not in Long Beach but an important reference, this prison sits east of San Diego and north of the border. Staples’ references are clear: he’d rather go to prison than deal with being poor.

  • “Blue Suede” on Hell Can Wait EP

Play this track in Calipat, get it poppin’ in the prison…

  • “Prima Donna” on Prima Donna

I’ve been broke, I ain’t goin’ back/
Rather go to Calipat, or murdered while I’m shootin’ back…

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