Vince Staples rides his own wave on his sophomore album, "Big Fish Theory"

Written by Waylon O'Day

MLM Stars: 4 Out of 5 Stars

Big Fish Theory, the sophomore album of North Long Beach MC Vince Staples is one of the better projects to come out of the hip-hop genre in the first half of 2017. The album takes great risks in terms of the production that Staples decided to utilize for this album. Featuring production from artists such as GTA, SOPHIE, and Flume, elements of house, trap, and Detroit techno are peppered throughout the project. Although the risks do net heaps of rewards, there are times that it seems as though Staples is purposefully trying to have the production take the spotlight.

There is not a single track on this project that is not well produced, that needs to be said, it’s easily the biggest highlight of the whole album. With that being said, Staples himself often takes a backseat to the production, especially on songs like “Crab Bucket,” and the GTA produced “Love Can Be…” which should be a Vince Staples feature, but this is his album, and you expect him to take the wheel. That’s really the biggest issue with this release, Staples let’s himself be upstaged, and even when he does contribute, it’s the same delivery throughout, he does vary his cadence but that’s about it.

That’s not to say he mails it in the whole time, “Big Fish” is one of the better tracks thanks to a Juicy J hook, and one of the better performances from Staples. “Yeah Right” takes the greatest risks on the album thanks to production from Flume and SOPHIE, however Staples and guest Kendrick Lamar were both able to deliver decidedly impressive verses. The final three tracks are some of the best in Staples catalog. “Party People” is easily the most energetic we see Staples, as we see Staples question why he has this joyful energy when the worst life has to offer surrounds him. The politically motivated “BagBak,” is both empowering and chilling as Staples touches on racial relations and tells the President to, well, you know. The final track “Rain Come Down,” is one of the more relaxed productions, but it still has this menacing factor to it, as Staples raps about life in the neighborhood he grew up in.

Overall, this is a fantastic album, but when you take into account that Staples was often not the main focus, it diminishes the impact this album has. Despite those shortcomings, Staples still gave admirable performances on most of the tracks, and although he may have not given his best performance, he has certainly shown himself to have a keen ear for fusing hip-hop and electronic music. Staples took some huge risks, and although I may have some issues with his delivery, he still is the mastermind behind a pretty solid project.

Listen to the project below