Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

At this present moment, rap is composed of Kendrick Lamar, the typical trap that saturates the mainstream like Future and Migos,  and the budding underground scene like Xxxtentacion and Lil Pump. However, with his latest album Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples makes it impossible to put him in either category. He brings something entirely fresh and innovative to the table. The amount of experimentation on this album is at maximum level, and it maximizes how amazing the album is.

Vince Staples is a true lyricist with an off-base sound evident on previous projects. He’s put himself in the conversation of top new school rappers. However, he is still highly underrated since he is not as mainstream as phenomenal lyricists like Kendrick Lamar. Especially in the state that rap is in right now where its more about flow and how lit the track is, talented and forward-thinking artists like Vince unfortunately get overlooked by many. However, Big Fish Theory stands out from the noise.

The production on the album is the foundation of this album. It’s experimental, odd, stellar, and extremely vibey despite not being the typical beats you tend to hear. That’s why this record stands out big time. It sounds like nothing else—just Vince. Staples has collaborated with future-bass producer Flume on the latter’s own track “Smoke and Retribution”, and it seems to have inspired the whole sound of Big Fish Theory. Flume’s production is phenomenal and unusual, and it’s surprising to find that he actually only produced one track on it. Overall, the album is well-produced and abnormally experimental. Some compare it’s eccentricity to Yeezus by Kanye West (Vince’s “Homage” and Kanye’s “New Slaves” are roughly similar), and, though that may be the closest thing to it, Big Fish Theory is a different species.

This experimental sound allows for Vince’s lyricism to get highlighted and underlined. Vince is truly a genius with the pen, and he continues to weave rhymes, word play, and story together while maintaining enough flow to make it all work.

Vince only featured a few artists on this album, and it was the best artists he could possibly ask to feature. Kendrick Lamar and KUCKA lend their vocals to the Flume and SOPHIE-produced track “Yeah Right”. Ultimately this is the most unexpected dream team ever, and they coalesce to create the best song on the album (which needs a music video ASAP). Vince collaborated with Kilo Kish previously, and she can be found on multiple songs. Vince brought Damon Albarn from Gorillaz on “Love Can Be…” and A$AP Rocky on “SAMO”. Ty Dolla Sign murders the hook on “Rain Come Down”, which is the concluding track to the mind-blowing project.

Overall, Big Fish Theory is exceptional. Artists can get daunted by experimenting with different sounds, but Vince took the challenge and it paid off. Vince Staples was eccentric before, and now he’s reached a new level. And it is the best thing that could have happened. Big Fish Theory cements Vince’s name in the conversation for top 10 of new school rappers.

Top vybes: “Yeah Right”, “745”, “BagBak”, “Homage”

For those who vybe to: Earl Sweatshirt and A$AP Rocky

Terror Jr – Bop City 2: TerroRising

Pop music is very formulaic. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. Basic lyrics about the same things. Not much creativity in general. So when Terror Jr came onto the scene with a fresh slant on pop music, I was hooked. Following up their first album with Bop City 2: TerroRising, Terror Jr continued to bring the jolly vibes that separate them from the run of the mill pop stars.

Bop City 2 is a masterpiece. It doesn’t lack in lyrics, vocals, production, structure, innovation, or execution. It is an inventive pop album with slick production from Felix Snow, a member of the trio who works heavily with glitch pop star Kiiara. It his signature production that truly distinguishes Terror Jr. The production is simplistic, minimalist, and airy. This allows for singer Lisa Vitale to effortlessly deliver her ethereal vocals. The production fits her voice and her voice fits the production, working tag team to create a dynamic that leaves its mark on the listener.

In terms of lyrics, Terror Jr always comes through with some well-penned lines. “Caramel” is a prime example of a song with substance. Touching upon topics like plastic surgery, homosexuality, racism, and religion, “Caramel” is gold when it comes to lyrics. Terror Jr not only penned meaningful songs, but also a ton of memorable lines that just click. The track “Sweatpants” has a memorable chorus that begs to be echoed at the top of lungs. Moreover, “Heartbreaks” is perfectly penned song, complimented strongly by Lisa’s effortless flow.

One concern I had as I impatiently waited for the album was that the songs would all sound too similar. Terror Jr has a very specific sound that couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else honestly, but I was afraid to fall upon an album that would be the same song with different lyrics. However, I was pleased to find that each song was different and offered something different to the overall album. And with each song standing out on its own, it ultimately leads to an album with maximum replayability.

The sugary sound of Terror Jr is overwhelming and underappreciated. Bop City 2 is not only a mature sequel but the band’s warning that they are going to take over pop with their fresh, inventive sound marked by real lyrics, stellar ethereal production, and airy vocals.

Vybes like: Terror Jr , Kiiara

Top vybes: Smoke, Sweatpants, Caramel, Heartbreaks

 

Calvin Harris, Pvris, The Plot In You

“Feels” – Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris will have the best album of the summer and the whole year—quote me. The evidence is in his singles off his upcoming release Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, due June 23rd. The latest of these singles “Feels” continues in the same fashion as the other singles. Calvin Harris is combining fantastical collaborations with extra groovy funk-inspired EDM. “Feels” features Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean, each artist adding an extra layer of artistry on this track. The production is phenomenal, truly mixing the funky vibes with modern anthems without being over-the-top. It’s impossible to miss how summery this and the other singles are which only hints more at the fact that Calvin Harris is taking over the summer. My favorite facet of “Feels” is that each artist adds a different flavor on top the stellar, slow-burning production.

“What’s Wrong” – Pvris

As if to prove that Pvris can do no wrong, they drop a new single titled “What’s Wrong”, and in fact there is nothing wrong with this song. Pvris does everything right on this track. To mix brooding lyrics with powerfully, subtle instrumentation for the result of an infectious alt-rock anthem is a showcase of outstanding musicianship. Lynn Gunn continues to deliver amazing vocals, and it is during the bridge where you can truly feel the riveting emotion that she brings. Pvris is a stand-out band for me because they don’t go overboard with their sound. They deliver darkly-tinged atmospheric tracks that don’t sacrifice infectiousness or simplicity. “What’s Wrong” is a testament to that and is further proof that Pvris will drop a phenomenal sophomore album due on August 4th.

“Feel Nothing” – The Plot In You

The Plot In You dropped “Feel Nothing” to announce their signing with the stacked Fearless Records. Despite its title, this track makes you feel everything. From the despondently dark instruments to the emotional, gritty vocals, this track is extremely powerful. This band has been amazing for quite some time, especially after their last record Happiness in Self Destruction, but they continue to display maturity in growth, evident on “Feel Nothing”. It’s polished, mature, and extremely well-structured—ultimately allowing for this song to hit harder than ever. The way the softly crooned verse simmers slowly into the potent chorus is remarkable and unforgettable. One simply cannot listen this song and not feel anything. The Plot In You killed this track, and in turn fans will kill the replay button.

A$AP Mob, Terror Jr., Currents

“Wrong” – A$AP Mob

A$AP Mob dropped a music video for “Wrong”, which means that Cozy Tapes Vol. II is on its way. A$AP Mob had one of the best albums of 2016, so “Wrong” and “RAF”, the two singles they have dropped so far, have certainly gotten me hyped. “Wrong” in particular is features only A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg, but that does not take away from the track. In fact, those two are the best A$AP members and they prove it on this track that serves to be less hype and more chill. Rocky effortlessly croons a wavy hook that is easy to vybe with. It carries the song very well, and when Ferg echoes the end of the hook before his verses the song truly coalesces. Ferg kills his verses, discussing his thoughts about how his infidelity leaves his girl with deep scars. With lyrics that actually have an impressive message on top of a soothing beat, Rocky and Ferg deliver an amazing track that showcases their growth and maturity.

“Appreciation” – Terror Jr.

The mysterious and innovative pop trio Terror Jr. have knocked the ball out of the park on each of their three singles. Their most recent one “Appreciation” is phenomenal. The production is terrific as usual; Felix Snow can do no wrong. The track is a sweet treat with lead singer Lisa’s vocals as airy and gripping as ever. However, the track doesn’t stray to far from their hit single “Come First”. Yet I have no problem with it because I view this track as a continuation of “Come First”, but from the a different perspective. In “Come First”, Lisa reminds her lover that she deserves to be cherished above all; in “Appreciation”, she puts her lover first as a way of showing her appreciation. Infectious from start to end, I eagerly wait for Terror Jr. to stop teasing with the singles and drop their album Bop City 2: TerroRising, out June 16. And mark my words: Terror Jr. and their innovative, candy pop sound will get them on the minds and tongues of the masses.

“Withered” – Currents

This is first song I have ever heard from the metalcore band Currents, and it has made me a fan. “Withered” is a heavy-hitter from a band that is heavily reminiscent of Chelsea Grin. Yet they distance themselves from that band with their solid cleans. The fresh vocals complement the unclean vocals. The song structure is varied and keeps things interesting. The riffs, however, are what indubitably carry this song. From the riffs in the atmospheric verses to the sexy breakdowns (especially the djenty one a minute in), “Withered” is a great track that should give this band more attention. Moreover, they are signed to SharpTone Records, a label that has a ton of amazing bands, both new and old. Thus, being a part of SharpTone means that Currents is the real deal.