Vince Staples is a complex artist. His last two releases gave us a clear representation of his gang affiliation as a teenager and some of the harsh realities he had to live through. On Prima Donna, he does not dwell on the same subject matter as before. As the E.P title might suggest, a lot of this project is about fame, and the struggles that come with it. That might sound like a story that has been told before or one you may not even want to hear, but there are very few artists with the artistic ability and integrity to paint images that can be witty, vivid and horrifying at the same like Staples.
Suicide is the biggest recurring theme on Prima Donna. He opens with low singing of ‘this little light of mine’ only to be interrupted by a gun shot. From here the E.P takes off at a frantic pace mentally. Vince takes the listener on a journey through his mind during his most depressive, anger fueled times. This results in uncomfortably accurate and real representations of that state of mind. There is no solution to any of these problems given here, just a harsh representation of mental health struggles; one that is needed in today’s hush hush climate of issues such as these.
In terms of production, Prima Donna is as unique as his debut album, Summertime 06, if not more. Vince seems unwilling to pick beats that sound even remotely like anything else at the moment and it works in his favour. Usually by the first chorus of each track, it’s near impossible to imagine any other voice other than Vince’s nasally pitch over the production. He knows how to make a track sound like it was tailor-made from him, whether that was actually the case or not.
As someone whose pre-2014 material was somewhat underwhelming, it’s refreshing to see him finally step in to the place he belongs with projects like this one. His once low mumble has now been replaced with a confident shout that demands attention. He is one of the most important artists we have right now and his brash voice and flow are the tools that will help him to spread his message. It might be hard to separate sarcasm from sincerity in his interviews, but it’s obvious that Vince isn’t lying when he says he cares about the youth. Prima Donna is a warning to those that maybe fame, or life in general isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, but it’s at least reassuring to know that there are others that feel the same way.