Vince Staples was always an artist that had great visionary procedure and knew how to really capture an audience. Summertime ’06 was the album that described Staples’ come up from a life with a father in crime, to what his life had become now as he tried to break the cycle, but ended up following in his father’s footsteps. Prima Donna is partially a continuation of what Summertime ’06 touched upon.
Vince Staples still talks about his younger days in Long Beach, California, and the setting around him. Staples, who is an immensely bright artist that was surrounded by the darkness of crime, violence, and misery, recognizes this and touches upon the subject all over Prima Donna. The first sounds heard on “Let It Shine” is what seems to be a gun being loaded, then fired into Staples or someone around him. It could most likely be assumed that Staples kills himself as suicide references are all over Prima Donna.
The track “Prima Donna” has a line where Staples describes how he would “Buy a million-dollar home and blow my dome to paint the kitchen.” Vince Staples has never been afraid to talk about darker subject matter and speak his mind. Prima Donna is a testament to that, as Vince Staples changes up his style in part for pieces of spoken-word poetry in between tracks.
These breaks do not act as just filler to the album length, they are actually some of the most important pieces to the Prima Donna puzzle. The spoken word was such a amazing addition and the way that Staples implements it as a way of progression just proves how talented he is as an artist. Without being confined to a beat or bars, Staples is able to rhyme together phrases that resemble a stream of consciousness that I still find myself repeating even now.
There is a great line on the track “Smile” where Staples says “Don’t say you feel my pain, cause I can’t even feel myself.” Prima Donna is by no means an uplifting album, but Staples manages to make the record still have some pumped-up beats that are some of his best yet. The beat for “Prima Donna” and “Big Time” were some that could have easily fit on his Summertime ’06 record and “Big Time” even has a similar “Next Time on Poppy Street”
segment. The thunderous rain clouds, and the woman asking “Is anyone there?” creates this eerie feel and I can only imagine what Staples has in store for his next release.
Staples who has always been a favorite artist of mine has really been setting the bar so far above the competition that it is amazing to see how he grows with each release and how he continues to destroy barriers in music. The outstanding production, the catchy lyrics, and the spoken-word, when put together create this powerhouse of an LP.