Review: So What? Episode 1 by Vince Staples

By Julian Navarro

With a first listen alone, Vince Staples’ new single could be labeled by a casual fan as vapid. This would be a negative departure from his conscious or complex lyrical hits like “Norf Norf” or “Big Fish.” The opening verse stands out with its (often unjustly focused upon) tropes of rap music: “Booty club, shaking dice with the strippers. / Throw a six, throw a five, I’m a winner.” But, this line is characteristic of Vince’s view of his position in the hip-hop world rather than the state of hip-hop itself. Vince has and will always hold himself up to the public as the underdog, the little kid from Long Beach, the quiet one in the back of all the Odd Future pictures. This song is an ode to those depths of the black male imagination that build situations where it has to be the scrappy underdog, where it has to stand up and be larger than life, to be able to say “I’m a winner.”

This view of the work is only enriched by its accompanying filmed vignette, the first episode of “The Vince Staples Show.” The video, on Youtube and Vevo, depicts a barbershop brawl in which Vince stands as the Jackie-Chan-esque nucleus. This only reveals to us Vince maturing as an artist. His work is expanding, his creativity is manifesting itself in concrete and successful ways outside of our headphones. His persona is expressed when the two artful components are taken in. This is the dry Vince who entertains us with popular rhythms and rhymes and still slyly reveals the malaise covering his quiet, hoodie-clad life. However, this song, in its plainness, is not as close to being a winner as he is.

Rating: 3.5 Q-Tips

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