Vince Staples - "Big Fish" (Singles Going Steady)

"Big Fish" is a fine way to lead into Vince Staples' new album.

Mike Schiller: It's just two verses and a hook, but these verses kill. Vince Staples hasn't been around long but his mastery of meter, rhythm, and wordplay is in full effect throughout "Big Fish", which says its piece and leaves us wanting more. It sounds like it's a tale of self-aggrandizement thanks to its hook, but the lyrics are another tale of the difficulty and conflicts of interest that came with the gang affiliations of his youth (not to mention the literal sinking ship of the video). "Big Fish" is a fine way to lead into his new album. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Both the audio and video for "Big Fish" have a strong simplicity to them. Vince Staples knows how to keep up his momentum, and here, his constant rhythm adds an immovable strength to his introspection. Staples spins a solid verse, and Juicy J’s chorus is one that sticks. There’s a lot of commercial viability here (several of the YouTube comments marvel at the lack of swearing), but "Big Fish" has structural integrity, too, and it’s a good cut to drop in anticipation of Staples’ upcoming sophomore album. [7/10]

Paul Carr: Staples signature rumble and roll of bouncy, claustrophobic beats are cut with some west coast funk but don’t let that fool you. “Big Fish” still finds Staples brooding among the shadows as he wrestles with the dark thoughts in his brain. Lines like “Swimming upstream while I’m tryna keep my bread / From the sharks made me wanna put the hammer to my head” reveal the depth of his inner struggle. However, the battle with his personal demons still makes for an exhilarating listening and provides further evidence that Staples is about to go stellar. [9/10]

Steve Horowitz: Vince has got the flow, but the doesn't have much else going on. Sure, one has to be patient to catch a big fish. That's a truism. But the music has to have more of a hook if it is going to catch anyone or anything worth keeping. [5/10]

SCORE: 7.50


Jun 1 Bill Graham Civic Auditorium San Francisco, CA, USA

Jun 2 Colossal Clusterfest San Francisco, CA, USA

Jun 10 Dreamland Margate Kent, United Kingdom

Jun 22 Electric Forest Rothbury, MI, USA

Jul 14 Pitchfork Festival Chicago, IL USA

Jul 15 Sloss Furnaces Birmingham, AL, USA

Jul 16 Sloss Furnaces Birmingham, AL, USA

Jul 29 Panorama Festival New York, NY, USA

Aug 12 Oyafestivalen Oslo, Norway

Aug 16 Pukkelpop Kiewit – Hasselt, Belgium

Aug 25 Richfield Avenue Reading, United Kingdom

Sep 1 Bumbershoot Festival Seattle, WA, USA

Sep 22 Life Is Beautiful Las Vegas, NV, USA

Sep 24 Life Is Beautiful Las Vegas, NV, USA





'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.


Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".


PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.


Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.


Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.


Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.


Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.


Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.