Vince Staples’ latest project proves to be one of the most ambitious extended play albums in recent years. With production contribution from James Blake and iconic features from Kilo Kish and A$ASP Rocky, Prima Donna sets the bar higher than most small releases but manages to only rouse our musical taste buds and assure us that more is on the horizon.
Right from the very first track of this piece, Vince makes sure that the audience clearly understands the underlying tone of his latest work. While he is known for his depressing lyrics and rhetoric, this opening song expresses an even more apathetic side of his character, as he sings a monotone cover of This Little Light of Mine. This style continues to show up at different points in the EP, typically at the rear part of each song. While I do appreciate the effort to provide some sort of concept to this artwork, I regretfully say that it does become slightly annoying and redundant after only three listens, and loses its overall impact as a result. If there were ten more tracks on this release, then I could see it working much better.
Moving on to the actual meat of this collection, I have nothing but fantastic things to say (aside from a few minor cons here and there, such as the brevity of War Ready). For starters, Loco is undoubtedly one of the best tracks. Vince’s delivery matches the insane instrumentation provided in this song, and Kilo Kish’s collaboration in the hook sounds like something straight out of a Massive Attack record, what with its dark-gritty bass section. Another fantastic song is Big Time, which contains a heavy influence from James Blakes’ typical sound, combined with chiptunes that create an overall unique experience.
One attention to detail that I truly appreciate is the effort that was placed into the references and homage from Staples’ previous album Summertime ’06. Samples such as the seagull sound on Prima Donna (track) that harken back to Norf Norf or the Spanish spoken words that remind me of the song Loca. All of these small details help to contribute to the idea that Vince holds an intentional agenda within each of his releases and that listeners should treat these records as sequels that build upon each other.
Aside from a few flaws, this EP truly stands out amidst a sea of other hot releases this month. It may not be perfect, but Prima Donna serves as a prequel to an inevitable full-length album that is sure to build upon this already genius sound. My honest opinion of this album is a 7.8/10