Ramona Park Broke my Heart dropped on April 8th, 2022, and if you haven’t given it a listen yet you’re missing out. According to Rolling Stone it is (almost) his best album to date, apart from Summertime ‘06. However, if you ask some of Staple’s fans, they may say it topped Summertime ‘06 and is in the running for Best Album of the Year. I would definitely agree that it’s in the running for Best Album, but I’m not sure it quite beats Summertime ‘06.
This sixteen track album, his longest yet, is named after his Long Beach neighborhood and is, once again, a reflection of home. Complex released this statement from Staples about the album’s meaning:
“I am often told the lie that life is what you make it,” he wrote. “For over a decade, most of my work has been an anthology of what I believed to be home. Now I’ve realized that it reaches beyond location.”
Ramona Park Broke my Heart features a few other artists including Mustard on “Magic with Mustard”, Lil Baby on “East Point Prayer”, and Ty Dolla $ign on “Lemonade”. “Magic with Mustard” was released prior to the album, on Valentine’s Day, as a catchy teaser, and I will say it is one of my favorites. I am typically a fan of catchier songs. However, while it does have the snappy beats that I am looking for, it fits with the rest of the album in its cynical, succinct approach to human violence, especially in relation to ‘home’:
Here he is referring to his home town in Long Beach City and its association with high rates of crime, gang, and gun violence. In an interview with Self-Mag in 2015 Staples said:
“[Long Beach is] the suburbs—not in the sense of safety or of how it looks, but in the sense of how it’s set up. Everyone knows everyone; it’s a small place, not one you get out of. And it’s really difficult, whether you talk economically, racially—it’s not the same as LA at all. […] Nobody do nothing in Long Beach but gang-bang. But we’ve been doing that our whole life.”
This is the subject matter of many of the songs on this album, apparent in his hard hitting lyrics. Paired with rich beats and sharp sounds, it’s hard to not listen to this on repeat.