• Record Label: Def Jam
  • Release Date: Jun 23, 2017

Universal acclaim - based on 25 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 25
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 25
  3. Negative: 0 out of 25
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  1. 100
    Whatever this is, it’s jaw-dropping.
  2. Jun 27, 2017
    Humble, modest, unassuming, and attentive to its runtime and the need to make a better song; in a year where Migos, “Mask Off,” and DAMN. have dominated the conversation, Big Fish Theory sticks out as the most consistent and well-versed rap album of the year.
  3. 91
    A truly progressive, existential, emotionally saturated hip-hop album that establishes the value of dance-centric collaboration by reminding us that it’s exactly that. And it will win this way, every single time.
  4. Jun 26, 2017
    On his new album, Big Fish Theory, Staples continues to perfect his brand of nuanced nihilism while exploring new sounds that should put the music industry on notice that the future is now.
  5. 91
    The full-length follow-up to his 2015 debut, Summertime ’06, surpasses expectations, with incisive lyrics and beats that spurn current trends for a set that sounds unlike anything else in hip-hop right now.
  6. Jun 23, 2017
    Big Fish Theory veers off the course set by its predecessor, bucking the sophomore slump by ditching the vast majority of his old collaborators and peers in favor of the sort of whole-cloth artistic reinvention generally associated with canonical greats like Kanye or Bowie. What’s even crazier is that he sticks the landing. It’s his second classic LP in a row.
  7. The Wire
    Aug 9, 2017
    What’s most thrilling about Big Fish Theory is that it doesn’t sound leftfield or challenging; instead it provides a scintillating snapshot of both the state of the art and the untold history of underground black music for the past 30 years. [Aug 2017, p.65]
  8. Jun 28, 2017
    Vince Staples doesn’t care for being labelled a rapper, perhaps, but in just "being himself” he has created one of the finest exponents of the genre this year. Hip hop is punk, it’s poetry, but also it’s party music--Big Fish Theory is an outstanding album that potently shows all of these exquisite possibilities. What’s more is, Staples makes it seem like the easiest thing in the world.
  9. Jun 28, 2017
    Nearly half the length of his debut, Big Fish Theory is tightly-wound and laser-focused, yet covers a huge amount of ground, simultaneously showcasing Staples at the most pumped-up and most fragile we’ve yet seen him. His word play is spectacular even when his flow isn’t at its most natural.
  10. Jun 26, 2017
    As contentious as Staples' ear for beats is to some listeners, it's refreshing to find him swimming away from a school of rappers comfortable with sonic stasis.
  11. 90
    On this record it is clear that Staples is making his own assertive artistic statement for these turbulent times, while also firmly establishing himself as one of the brash, singular voices that is going to be leading the music world into the chaotic, unpredictable future.
  12. Jun 23, 2017
    Big Fish Theory is a compact rap gem for dancing to or simply sitting with, an album that is as innovative as it is accessible; if not a glimpse into the future, then it’s at least an incisive look at the present.
  13. Jul 6, 2017
    This is a very different record from Summertime ’06, both thematically and sonically, but it’s no less incisive, challenging, or flat-out excellent.
  14. Jun 27, 2017
    Big Fish Theory sees Staples evolve as a rapper and an artist, and prove himself as a singular talent in hip-hop.
  15. Jun 28, 2017
    While Vince sticks with his most familiar narrative examining stardom’s futility despite it providing escape from former life’s struggles, his calling lies in finding provocative, edgy and unconventional ways to tell his story. Luckily, Staples’ choice to walk the road less traveled placing innovation at a premium over fame shouldn’t prevent his well deserved shine from gaining continual momentum.
  16. Jul 10, 2017
    By weaponising his introspection and pushing his impeccably high standards outwards, Vince Staples delivers an incredible State of the Union address on rap today.
  17. Q Magazine
    Jul 6, 2017
    This lean, tightly structured follow-up ramps up the intensity. Built around raw, electronic productions, it also showcases his ability to rhyme with devastating candour over wildly varying beats. [Aug 2017, p.111]
  18. Jun 26, 2017
    Big Fish Theory doubles the ambition of Summertime ’06’s corroded soundscape but condenses that breadth within a tight 36 minutes.
  19. Jun 26, 2017
    The Big Fish Theory is a powerful and troubling record. It’s an epic in miniature that shows a natural progression from Staples’s previous work.
  20. Jun 26, 2017
    Like its predecessors, Big Fish Theory is an album that grabs you by the lapels with its urgency while slapping you round the ears with its sound design.
  21. Jun 23, 2017
    It makes for a challenging, dystopian listen, the blade runner to everyone else’s replicant.
  22. Jun 23, 2017
    Big Fish Theory cements Staples' status as one of the most talented and forward-thinking voices in rap in the late 2010s.
  23. Jun 21, 2017
    Big Fish Theory is a record that not only sees Vince taking risks and progressing forward as an artist, but also another astounding example of what hip-hop should and can be in 2017.
  24. Jun 27, 2017
    While this album is being heralded as a triumph by many, to this writer it feels more akin to an in-between; furtive steps in a new direction that will almost doubtlessly be mined even more successfully next go round--assuming our hero doesn't veer in yet another direction. What's sure is, we'll never be bored.
  25. Jun 23, 2017
    Sure, it's less focused than the reportage of 2015's Summertime '06, but the varying emotions and outlooks mark a full step forward into becoming a multi-layered, genre-crossing, emotion-spilling pop auteur in the vein of West, Drake or Childish Gambino.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 376 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 18 out of 376
  1. Jun 23, 2017
    Vince Staples. The Rap Enigma. Vince's flow on this project is silky and smooth, while the production is experimental and hard-hitting. TheseVince Staples. The Rap Enigma. Vince's flow on this project is silky and smooth, while the production is experimental and hard-hitting. These tracks are abrasive and dystopian, while being supported by a brilliant feature list, which is a bonus. His lyrical ability is more seasoned and deep than ever. Definitely one of the best and most captivating listens of 2017. Can't wait to hear more from Vince in the future. Full Review »
  2. Dec 26, 2017
    A great album. Vince's flow is amazing, when Crabs In a Bucket started, and I heard his flow tear through the instrumental, I know I was inA great album. Vince's flow is amazing, when Crabs In a Bucket started, and I heard his flow tear through the instrumental, I know I was in for something great. The beats are quite strange and experimental, but they are also very unique and Vince's flow sounds absolutely terrific with it.

    Favorite Tracks: Big Fish, 745, Yeah Right, Party People
    Least Favorite Tracks: First half of Alyssa Interlude,
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 28, 2017
    This is a very mixed bag of an album, plain and simple. My main gripes with the album is that at some points the beats, while often veryThis is a very mixed bag of an album, plain and simple. My main gripes with the album is that at some points the beats, while often very catchy and experimental, the beats themselves can often be almost overproduced. The way the beats can change every seconds is interesting and cool, but this often outshines the rappers and can almost be a diversion from what is supposed to be a main event. My other gripe is that Vince's main messages are nothing new, with it criticizing those who believe they are too big for those around them, which is a tired subject that is often talk about by underground or "backpack" rap. Despite these negatives though, I think that this is a very good album. Vince and most of his guests bring energy and great flows, with their lyrics not being amazing but par for the course, which is made up for by the energy brought by the beat and the rappers. While this is a good project, there are obvious flaws to me that make this a very solid project but not the next current classic, but I will admit that Vince has great amounts of potential, and could probably go toe to toe with even his greatest contemporaries with new and more nuanced ideas and lyrics, assuming he progresses on his next album. Full Review »