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Music

California Sounds: Vince Staples slams the 1%, the Regrettes rage at Trump and Meatbodies freak out

Vince Staples
Vince Staples performs in the Sahara tent at Coachella in 2016.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Vince Staples, “BagBak” (Def Jam). The smart, agile Long Beach rapper seems to float across the futuristic synth bars on his new track. Staples, who is only 23, has been on a thrilling run since his “Stolen Youth” mixtape in 2013.

His confidence seems to be growing alongside his skills as a writer, as proved by his breakout 2015 album, “Summertime ’06,” and his accurately titled 2016 EP “Prima Donna.”

With fluid phrasing and verbal playfulness that’s dotted with cussing for emphasis, Staples dedicates his new single, “BagBak,” to his “future baby mama” and brags that not only will he replace her Honda with a Mercedes but he will also alter her very core. “I can balance out your chakras,” he proclaims.

Boasting in rap —  hard to believe, right?

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But then Staples gets to the point, upending the narrative via a searing singsong burst of verses that tackle American inequality and black pride: “We need Tamikas and Shaniquas in that Oval Office/ Obama ain’t enough for me, we only getting started/ The next Bill Gates can be on Section 8 up in the projects/ So ‘til they love my dark skin/ ... I’m goin’ all in.”

(Warning: the below audio clip contains a number of cuss words.)

He does so atop a loopy rhythm that opens with a quick-snared, double-time pattern produced by Ray Brady (Kilo Kish, Santigold) but that slows into a groovy crawl as Staples starts rapping. By the end, the artist is demanding action against his oppressors — the 1%, the government and the new president —    in language too explicit to print.

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The Regrettes, “Seashore” (Live video). “This one is dedicated to Donald Trump,” the Regrettes’ lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Lydia Nite, says to open a new live version of their song “Seashore.” She’s onstage at the Echo in Echo Park during a recent gig playing a song from her band’s debut album, “Feel Your Feelings Fool!” as a mass of fans awaits below.

“You’re talking to me like a child/ Hey, I’ve got news I’m not a little girl,” she sings while playing a four-note guitar melody. Supremely confident, Nite acts out each line for maximum effect.

(Warning: The below clip contains a strong cuss during the verses.)

As she does so, the rest of the Regrettes add volume, distortion and tension, one that reaches its peak as Nite spews out an invective as harsh as the one Staples tossed in Trump’s direction in “BagBak.” Apparently, the president isn’t making many friends in underground Los Angeles.

Meatbodies, “Alice” (In the Red Records). The L.A. psych-rock band doesn’t overtly focus on politics, though with twisted songs about fools, fear, scavengers, kings and burning fields, it could be.

Part of a tangled community of gruff fellas making guitar rock in and around northeastern L.A., the band was founded by Monrovia-bred Chad Ubovich as Chad & the Meatbodies. They edited their name a few years ago, around the same time that Ubovich teamed with peers Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin to form sludge rock band Fuzz. 

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On Meatbodies’ new album, “Alice,” Ubovich and band draw on the sweetly twisted sounds of Marc Bolan and T. Rex, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”-era Black Sabbath, early Pink Floyd and the razor sharp rock songs of the late Jay Reatard. 

Though Meatbodies has been described as a garage rock band, “Alice” is a studio album in the best sense. Erik Jimenez’s drumming jumps around in the stereo spectrum like he’s inside your headphones, and Ubovich’s double-tracked guitars duel for supremacy in the left and right channels. Taken at full volume, “Alice” rules.

Email: randall.roberts@latimes.com.For tips, records, snapshots and stories on Los Angeles music culture, follow Randall Roberts on Twitter and Instagram: @liledit.

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