Vince Staples’s new seven-song EP Prima Donna might be his best release yet, although it would presumptuous to just go and make that claim because who can just say stuff about art? These things are up for interpretation, and Vince would be the first to agree. “That's what makes art art,” he told Noisey recently. But what I can tell you for sure is that Prima Donna takes a turn from last year’s also excellent Summertime ’06 into deeper interior spaces. It is, to use a technical term, a bit of a mindfuck.
As a result, it would be profoundly stupid for it to just get your typical meat-and-potatoes music video, with Vince driving a car around or hanging out by a pool or something. What it deserves—and what it now has—is a surreal fantasia exposing the very deep-seated entertainment business incongruities that seem to haunt Vince on the record. The short film Prima Donna, directed by Nabil, seizes upon the themes of the EP and follows Vince on a dream-like journey through his own music and the perils of performance. Vince leaves a music video shoot and gets in an incongruously shabby old cab, which is almost always a sign some weird shit is going to happen. He ends up at an equally shabby old hotel—another major red flag for weird shit—called the Prima Donna, and here reality really starts to bend, as Vince catches glimpses of stars like Tupac and Amy Winehouse in the hallway.
What surfaces, ultimately, is an eerie reflection on celebrity, the music industry, race, and more. Once again, it would be absurd to try to tell you what it all means, and Vince Staples would probably get mad at us if we tried. So watch Prima Donna, premiering on Noisey right now and airing on VICELAND throughout today, let it bend your brain, and then go listen to the hell out of Prima Donna.