Monday, 17 July 2017

Vince Staples "Big Fish Theory" (2017)


It was only a while back that I was introduced to the young Compton rapper. Summertime '06 won me over so another album springing up so quickly Is a pleasant surprise. Big Fish takes of where Summertime left, working with the same producer Vince retains the distinct production style behind his rhymes, sub baselines crunch under tight shuffling hi hats and steady, cautious snare kick grooves. Where Summertime had a smoother tone with fragrant samples and a more "traditional" Hip Hop vibe, Big Fish takes a turn to new territory with strong influences from House and Electronic music that has much of the instrumentation used performed by an array of synthesized sounds.

 The album kicks off with "Crabs In The Bucket", if you removed Vince's voice from the track it would unrecognizable as a Hip Hop track, Its sweeping wind synths lead us into a smooth Dance groove with Kilo Kish laying down soft, echoing vocals over a climatic jiving baseline groove reminiscent of G-Funk. This tone follows through the record, many tracks would fall into another category if it wasn't for Vince's rhymes and that's the albums brilliance, Its abridged styles and created something of its own, a unique fusion that seems just right for this artist. The records tone has a rather cold and spacious quality, many of these crunking baselines and tight shuffling beats intersect with abstract electronic noises without an upfront melody. In response the baseline rhythms become a focal point of direction and Vince's often flat, leveled delivery reinforces the chilling tone. It works especially well when his lyrics go into darker regions.

With a handful of banging baselines and catchy hooks the album sets off fires in one instances and puts them out with its quirkier tracks that don't quite vibe the same. Not to say they are bad tracks but there is a note able difference despite a rather consistent tone. I like Big Fish Theory for its unique crossover between style two genres and much is to be merited for that success but it doesn't mean all the songs are automatically destined for greatness. With new territory comes new challenges and through the thirty six minutes I felt as if there was an imbalance between the quirky, rhythmically arranged synths and an opportunity for more dance laden melody and atmosphere, however that's just a matter of taste and unfortunately what started out as a really interesting album started to fade somewhat by the tenth listen or so as the overall picture of the record came into view. The songs just don't quite hold up and an overall direction is lacking, most notable on Alyssa that comes in with a long vocal snippet that has seemingly nothing to do with the rest of the record. The great ideas are scattered in here but they don't find their way to cohesion.

Favorite Tracks: Crabs In The Bucket, Love Can Be, 745, Bagbak, Rain Come Down
Rating: 6/10

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