Album Review: Vince Staples’ ‘Prima Donna’


Kenneth Morales, Copy Editor

Vince Staples returns with his deepest and most thought provoking effort yet with his new EP, “Prima Donna”

Although his shortest work, “Prima Donna” outshines “Hell Can Wait” and “Summertime ‘06” with it’s much more intriguing subject matter. With this new project, Staples delivers on the expectation of some growth and progression in his music

Beginning with the production, Staples strays away from his use of more traditional beats on his latest effort.

The production really is all over the place, from heavy guitar riffs to light, electronic beats, the EP does contain a diversity of sound, which is a nice change of pace. For example, the track “War Ready” features a very sort of bubbly, airy electronic beat, which quickly changes to a raspy sounding guitar on the next track, “Smile.”

The overall mood he establishes right from the start is somber and uneasy. Even the EP’s cover art features an unhappy looking Vince Staples with an enlarged head to illustrate how he has become a prima donna. The cassette recording that starts off the EP sets the tone for the rest of the tracklist.

The few other recordings throughout the EP accompany Staples’ dark subject matter to emphasize the sad and dark tone of the EP.  While all of his past work has tackled the grim reality of life in the inner city, “Prima Donna” is by far his darkest work yet.

Staples’ past projects have, for the most part, detailed his own experiences with gang violence as a result of where he was raised.

On this EP, Staples paints an all too real picture of what life is like for him and other kids like him growing up in gang-ridden Long Beach.

With it’s deeply emotional themes, he details his fight with his own demons. And this is where the EP truly shines. It follows a reverse narrative beginning with his own suicide with the following tracks and other skits leading up to that event. It’s almost as though he experiences some sort of survivor’s guilt, dealing with what he has done to attain fame and money, and the downsides of attaining such fame. This theme is highlighted by tracks like “Smile” and “Prima Donna.”

In the end, this depression gets the best of him, with Staples’ persona committing suicide, as he can’t deal with how much of a prima donna he has become in his own eyes.

Staples also released a short film in conjunction with the EP, which really explores the themes presented in a visually intriguing way.

Rating: 8/10