Vince Staples – Prima Donna

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Release Date: 08/26/16

Photo: ihiphop

Prima Donna appropriately and adequately bridges the stylistic gap between preceding album Summertime ’06 and the follow-up album to this EP, Big Fish Theory.

The album starts with the singsong spoken word “Let it Shine” before heading into the catchy, yet unusual “War Ready”, which awesomely samples Outkast’s “ATLien”. This already represents a change of pace for Staples at this point in time, but it’s just a sample of what’s to come, both later on this EP and especially on the following LP, Big Fish Theory. The singsong spoken word passages appear a few times throughout this EP providing a level of cohesion for the project.

The next track finds Staples rapping over a very early-2010’s sounding bluesy garage rock tune, something akin to The Black Keys. In my opinion, it’s the weakest full track on this release, but it’s not necessarily bad. “Loco” is undoubtedly a career highlight – consisting of a complex and interesting, somewhat glitchy and dissonant, not to mention dark, production style, and featuring an awesome feature from another alternative hip-hop artist, Kilo Kish. She shows up a few times, including on a couple highlights, from preceding release Summertime ’06 too.

This is followed up by another excellent track “Prima Donna”. This track is perhaps the most stylistically similar to what’s found on Summertime ’06. Fortunately, it’s also Summertime ’06 quality, so needless to say, it’s another highlight here. The following track “Pimp Hand” heads back to a more unusual sounding production style, though interestingly it is produced by No ID much like much of his preceding LP. Of course, No ID has proven hid production chops there and elsewhere. The fact that he can create sounds with such variety isn’t exactly surprising, but it’s always nice to hear. The vocal hook in the chorus is pretty catchy – “pimpin’ hand strong, pimpin’ hand… strong“. The way he inflects that last line on the final refrain before repeating the whole chorus one more time can really get stuck in your head.

The EP finishes up with the song that most foreshadows what was to come with Big Fish Theory. This song being “Big Time”, which lives somewhere between being a banger and electronic influenced, but also maybe a bit too weird to be danceable. One of my favorite combination of sounds however, is bass-heavy, trap influenced beats, with heavy doses of darkness, and this track really delivers in that regard. Having a dope flow and interesting instrumentation and musical harmonies on top of all this is just delicious topping. Much respect to James Blake for this awesome beat.

Vince Staples has already proved himself a vital part of the modern hip-hop scene, coming out with some of the most interesting and innovative music in the genre. I’m very excited to hear what’s coming next.

Highlights: “Loco”, “Prima Donna”, “Big Time”
Rating: 4/5
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