Vince Staples has been on a nautical kick for a while now, so it’s appropriate that his upcoming full-length album is called Big Fish Theory. Following the Life Aquatic world tour, the logical next step simply had to be Vince rapping on a sinking sailboat.
Thus, the setting for his new single, Big Fish. As with his prior videos, it’s a worth slice of visual art. The song is a low-key banger, too:
I’m feeling a pitch-black take on g-funk. Big, curvy bass line looping below an expansive soundscape carved out with big open spaces. Staples’ signature rapid-fire deadpan skims the surface of a production that rolls like mid-ocean waves, all depth and force without eruption. Tension builds and builds with no release, all this pent-up energy submerged at the end of the song. It’s a bit of aesthetic subversion that’s familiar to fans at this point, another tight evolution of a sound that seemed full-formed when he broke out a couple years back at the young age of twenty one.
There are no verbal fireworks here; just straight storytelling in a trio of buzzing verses. Staples might be one of the most dextrous young rappers without any need to show off on a regular basis. He delivers hard, seemingly shrugging off the effort.
At this point, a cinematic visual counterpart is kind of expected, after miniature masterpieces like his Señorita video. Big Fish is his most ambitious video yet. After we see a fish in a tank on some cold, rocky shore, we move on to Vince clinging to a capsized boat, wide eyes scanning the choppy waters for a threat. The boat is going down, and his time is running out. The visuals make a sense of desperation palpable, urging the song onward as night falls. There’s a pop in the dark, and a big of magic too.
Vince Staples’ sophomore album Big Fish Theory is dropping June 23 on Blacksmith/ARTium/Def Jam. His debut, Summertime 06, was one of the best albums of 2015, and a track from his Prima Donna EP made it onto this year’s Neon Dream mixtape a few months back. I can’t wait to hear more.