Music is meant to chronicle whatever inspires an artist at a specific time and moment. Whether it's the past, the present, the future, struggle, joy or despair, music gives listeners a front row seat to a world they've never known or comfort to others so they know they aren't alone.

When listening to Vince Staples' projects—from Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1 to last summer's Prima Donna EP—you'll see an artist who's world is expanding. From Long Beach, Calif.'s Ramona Park and beyond, Vince is remarkably good at painting a full landscape for the listener with what he's currently observing. Quite plainly, over trunk-rattling beats, the rapper delivers razor-sharp verses that make you you think.

His upcoming album, Big Fish Theory, due June 23, is centered on Afro-futurism. “All I can tell you is that it’s current. It’s tomorrow. It’s next Thursday,” Staples told LA Weekly. “We making future music. It’s Afro-futurism. This is my Afro-futurism. There’s no other kind.”

To give fans a preview, the 23-year-old rhymer held a private listening of the LP Monday night (June 12) on the West side of Manhattan at the Fish Bowl inside the Dream Hotel. With seafood and burgers being passed around plus a plethora of drinks, tastemakers got an early glimpse into Vince's current mind state.

Now at most album listening sessions, it's hard to get a feel for what the rapper is actually saying but you can get an idea of the atmosphere the album sets. For Big Fish Theory, which is 12 songs long, it makes you want to dance.

As Vince Staples has progressed as an artist, the production from each project has grown. Big Fish Theory has heavy bass and, at times, feels like a techno album. It's fascinating to listening to as Vince showcases his versatility, rapping over beats that range from classic West Coast production to something that sounds like it can be spun by Deadmau5 in a Las Vegas club. In the same LA Weekly interview, Vince also spoke about his artistic progression and the stigma that rappers must stay idle musically.

“If a photographer took the same picture over and over again, you’d call them crazy, right? If an architect built the same house, if a designer made the same clothes, if a painter made the same painting—we’d all discredit them,” Vince explains. “Then why do we expect musicians, and rappers specifically, to do the same thing over and over and over? It’s because they do not look at rap music as art. They like to say the word, but they’re not really holding anything to those standards.”

The strongest part of the album is the middle chunk of songs. "745," “Ramona Park Is Yankee Stadium,” “Yeah Right” and “Homage” sound fantastic. “Ramona Park Is Yankee Stadium” in particular features Vince and Kendrick Lamar collaborating on a song that should surely make hip-hop heads lose their minds. The other artists that make guest appearances are Juicy J on "Big Fish" and Ty Dolla $ign on "Rain Come Down"—both songs have been previously released.

In another cool moment, Vince passed out real fish to people in attendance at the event. When it comes to sticking to a theme, the MC is on point. Big Fish Theory is definitely worth your coins. It's another positive step in his already strong, artistic career so far. Vince Staples, young Kehinde Wiley.

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