Vince Staples is a tough artist to figure out. Always floating between reality and his own universe, listeners are usually left to wonder if we should be taking him seriously or not. We wonder what context we’re supposed to listen to his music in, how to feel about his rhymes and his unconventional choice of production. Plain and simple, his allure is how he can shock and surprise you when you least expect it. Big Fish Theory is Vince Staples most shocking and electrifying album yet.
Just looking at the album credits before even listening, you know you’re going to be in for something fucking weird and special. A perfect cast of featuring artists, Kendrick, Juicy J, Kilo Kish and Ty Dolla Sign, aren’t even the most interesting part of the credits. The production is spectacular on this album and it features a lot of producers who are just making their way into the hip hop scene. Zach Zekoff, an underground producer based out of LA, is featured on a handful of tracks and more than keeps up with Vinces rhymes. You have new age electronic producers Flume and SOPHIE, which is where it gets crazy. Both producers have a very different brand of electronic that is very harsh and abrasive at points, but is really perfect for someone as dynamic as Vince. Justin Vernon pairs with Sekoff on the first track, although its barely noticeable.
The highlight of this album is, by far, “Yeah Right.” I’m convinced that this song is from the future. It is a clear benchmark for the future of hip hop. Flume and SOPHIE absolutely kill it on the beat on this song; the bass and the abrasive synths hit as hard as the lyrics. As if you’d expect anything less, Kendrick owns his verse, delivering it with ferocity and conviction. This is an album you want to pay close attention to lyrically and “Yeah Right” features a trove of slick lines
How the thug life? How the love life?
How the workload? Is your buzz right?
Do the trap jump? Is the plug right?
Got your head right? Boy, yeah right
SOPHIE produces again on “SAMO”, another highlight of the albums obscure and futuristic tone. The Gorillaz Damon Albarn features on “Love Can Be….” The track has a banging verse from Kilo Kish who is so in her element on all of her features on this album. The Amy Winehouse interview on “Alyssa Interlude” is an exclamation point on this album. It certainly changed how I perceived the album and its lyrics. I especially love his work on “Bag Bak,” a wide ranging song musing on his political and societal views
Prison system broken, racial war commotion
Until the president get ashy, Vincent won’t be votin’
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
Bitch I’m goin’ all in
Big Fish Theory is an intense experience; its a look into what could happen if more hip hop artists embrace the unknown and the future.