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Musical Advent Calendar #13 Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

“Being larger than life in a smaller world” That was Vince Staples telling Complex in an interview about the meaning behind his latest album: Big Fish Theory. The long beach 24 year old has been a close friend of the group Odd Future, working with Earl Sweatshirt and touring this year with Tyler, the creator. His second studio album only 36 minutes long, under Def Jam records, has a much more avant-guard feel with contemporary lyrics about social cohesion, controversies and dealing with his newfound fame. Staples has been up and coming in the hip-hop scene throughout recent years bringing out his debut album ‘Summertime 06’ succeeding his 2014 EP ‘Hell Can Wait’. Summertime 06’ was a two sided record consisting of melancholy beats, contrasting the rich upper class lifestyle and his time in the Crips gang on Long Beach through controversial lyrics. He followed up 06’ with the EP Prima Donna where Staples works with the likes of James Blake, A$AP Rocky and Kilo Kish, experimenting with a slight electronic feel to his production but still hitting the nihilistic, dark, lyrics that pound throughout the EP.

“We making future music. It’s Afro-futurism. This is my Afro-futurism. There’s no other kind.” This is how Staples described the sound on Big Fish Theory. Mixing electro dance music in the track ‘Love Can Be” with distorted trap basslines from Flume in ‘Yeah Right’, Big Fish features some big names in the production pond. Albums normally open with slow intros to set the scene, however Staple’s opening track ‘Crabs In A Bucket’ has a punchy garage beat setting a precedent for the next 30 minutes. “Wanna see you at the bottom, don’t you love it?/When they’re hatin’ so you hit ’em with the encore” Vince raps in the first verse. Here he relates to literal crabs in a bucket, each using the others to try and escape, all failing. Vince says this in the way of the public on his rapping, they hate on him but he fights back and replies with ‘the encore’ – more albums.

The second track on the album ‘Big Fish’ talks about his time on long beach.“So far from my past misfortune” He raps about outgrowing those surrounding of gang violence, crime and poverty. The continuation of the track shows his movement from being the little fish in the claustrophobic tank of long beach to a big fish in the fame and society that is the world.

In a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’, Staples stated his favourite rapper was Kanye West, and you can clearly see his influence in both production and the new direction Staples has take. As every artist rapper switches up their style at some point, Kanye with Yeezus and now Staples with Big Fish with both albums moving to heavier back beats and dance feel. Experimenting with new distorted sounds, music focused rather than lyrically. Big fish has bangers likes ‘Party People’, ‘Yeah Right’ and ‘Homage’ – the lyrics are still old school Vince but the hooks are poor with room for improvement in comparison to 06’.

Overall Staples’s second album hits the bar expected by fans, however its untried new composition could have lost him some followers, expecting more of the same. Vince being Vince though, he’ll keep drinking sprite and eating hot wings unconcerned by the media. Expect to see something big in 2018.


Tom Carne


For a lil bit of Vince and a whole other musical kettle of fish have a look at our albums of the year playlist!