Review: Vince Staples “Prima Donna”

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Charlamagne said he would get California rapper Vince Staples on the show and he made it happen. Staples discusses his new EP Prima Donna, how he got into the street life and his views on it now, helping kids and treating rapping like a job on The Breakfast Club.

Vince is such an interesting character and I find it hilarious that he’s a rapper. With his EP for Prima Donna out, I saw a lot of bad reviews for the project which I didn’t expect. I really like Staples so I decided to give it a listen anyway since the EP is only 7 tracks. He released a short film based off the project as well.

Favorite tracks: Smile, Loco, Pimp Hand, Prima Donna

Let It Shine: This track opens the EP on a sinister note. As Vince sings in a monotone voice the classic gospel song “This Little Light of Mine”, the song takes a dark turn when you hear a gun shot interrupt the singing.

War Ready: With the eletronic production handled by James Blake and a sampling of Andre 3000 off of ATLiens, Vince raps about his upbringing, superficiality in the industry and how you gotta be ready for war.

Learned the power of words when we was younger
Saying fuck the sign on his curb can make him hunt you
Turned the African into a nigger then they hung him
Said it earlier in the verse, sometimes I wonder
Who the activist and who Devils advocate
Or do it matter? Shit

Smile: Like “Let It Shine”, the title reflects optimism but Staples vents about the dark side of his life and his success touching on topics like depression, paranoia and suicide. On the outro, he repeatedly says “Sometimes I feel like giving up, sometimes I feel like giving up”.

Loco (featuring Kilo Kish): “Everybody get a little bit crazy. Seems like you’ve been feeling that lately“. I love when Vince and Kilo Kish get together on a track. Reminiscent of their other song, Loca, “Loco” focuses on Staples’ crazy life, his dealings with women and the industry. Kilo Kish comes in as an old friend checking up on her homie and seeing if he’s been doing alright. His flow on this song is crazy.

Prima Donna (featuring ASAP Rocky): I’m upset Rocky was only on the chorus for this song. As Vince raps about the struggle of fame and how others perceive you, “All the homies say I’m different, police say I raise suspicion. Buy a million dollar home and blow my dome to paint the kitchen”, Rocky holds down the chorus asking “is it real, is it real?

Pimp Hand: “Yeah, it don’t add up cause the Crippin’ not the same. Yeah, time to show the bitches who the man. Pimp hand strong, pimp hand strong” , Staples spazzes on the joint as he talks about how hip hop and gangbanging has changed and how he’s the man. “Well I was born by the river not baptized in it.

Big Time: Vince takes a superficial route and brags about how he’s “big time” now and calls out the real from the fake. “I come from the game where they pay to play
These rappers extorted like everyday”

Prima Donna is a solid project to me. The theme throughout this whole project is Staples battling depression, dealing with his past and adjusting to fame. If you’re expecting trap beats and repetitive lyrics, maybe this isn’t for you. I can see why people may not be feeling Prima Donna but the wordplay and structure throughout each track is too dope and deep for me to deem it bad. What I like about the concept of the EP is that you can play it backwards and it’ll still make sense and convey what Vince is going through. Vince is clearly a man who has a lot on his mind (which is pointed out on the EP cover art) and his version of being a prima donna is an interesting take to digest.

Listen to the EP on Spotify.

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