Hip-hop and EDM have always gone hand in hand, but you almost never see a full-fledged rap over a full-fledged, techno dance beat. 

Truly club-oriented electronic music, with its rich textures and focus on the dancers’ movements rather than melody, seems incompatible with conscious, street-wise raps from wordsmiths like Kendrick Lamar or Eminem. But the best music overturns assumptions, and with “Big Fish Theory,” quickly-rising figure Vince Staples has compiled an impressive collection of club-rap tunes that hit hard with every musical facet — gorgeous production, massive hooks and brilliant verses.

Right from fiery opener ‘Crabs In A Bucket’, Staples’ propulsive, hypnotic flow has never sounded stronger. His lyrics, meanwhile, are emotionally calibrated for 2017: antsy, alienated and occasionally overcome with nihilistic despair at the state of the world. And his bleak lyrical brilliance is perfectly matched by ‘Big Fish Theory’’s experimental production. He’s always had a taste for harsh electronic funk, and he embraces that creative urge more eagerly than ever. There’s slo-mo techno, dystopian G-funk, field recordings, growling industrialism; abstract, icy grooves more indebted to Berlin than Atlanta.

“We making future music,” announced Staples in the run-up to ‘Big Fish Theory’’s release. “This is my Afro-futurism.”

‘Big Fish Theory’ is one of the most ambitious, dazzling hip-hop albums of 2017 so far – neck-and-neck with Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’. 

Vince Staples “BIG FISH THEORY” available now:

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