Compared to last year’s Summertime ’06, Vince Staples’ latest project shows clear growth, especially taking into account that its EP status makes it more a successor to 2014’s Hell Can Wait. Lyrically, the record shows clear growth from Hell Can Wait. That said, at seven tracks, Prima Donna is a much shorter project, and although tracks like “Pimp Hand” and “War Ready” are impressive in terms of lyrical growth, others, such as “Big Time” seem to fall short of the mark.
One of the best tracks on the record is “Smile,” which sees Staples address, in a rather broad and noncommittal fashion, the topic of depression. Nothing new (or even very interesting) is being said about the topic in general, but what’s interesting about the track is its production, which incorporates a squealing guitar seemingly better-suited to rock or blues.
Essentially, Prima Donna, while not groundbreaking, is a clearly-defined step forward for Staples, both in terms of lyricism and the kind of production he’s rapping over. If his goal is to avoid being pigeonholed as one or another kind of rapper, Staples is doing just fine.