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One Video: Big Fish by Vince Staples

One Video: Big Fish by Vince Staples


Just forget about science for THREE minutes

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Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video? Maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.

This week’s video: “Big Fish” by Vince Staples

Lizzie: Most people would not remain calm if their nose-diving speedboat was being circled by a shark, and their lifejacket was floating towards the sunset. Vince Staples, in this video, and one would assume, in any similar situation, remains calm.

The song itself is a good late-night summer track, with bass so heavy it could leave a bruise. I think it would go over well at your next beach party.

Kaitlyn: Speaking of staying calm, and of beaches, I’d like to add that Vince contributed a song to Baywatch (Music from the Motion Picture). So he loves beaches, beach dangers, and procedural solutions to beach dangers. I would guess. That song, called “BagBak,” features a really good lyric: “Boy I’m buoyant, we are / floating on them peons.”

vince staples

Who is Vince Staples?

Lizzie: Vince Staples is a rapper from Long Beach, CA, so he’s presumably familiar with the biology of marine life.

Kaitlyn: Actually, no, I’m sorry Lizzie, he isn’t very familiar with it. In this video, Vince Staples releases a goldfish into the ocean. Goldfish cannot live in salt water, even for the sake of imaginative imagery. We nearly disqualified Vince from One Video consideration because The Verge is a publication dedicated to facts and science, but in the end we reasoned that art can take some liberties once in a while.

Lizzie: The goldfish gets pretty big by the end of the video, which you could attribute to salt bloat, but I have seen a big goldfish before.

Kaitlyn: Yes, it’s a metaphor. Vince is in the phase of his career where he has to go from being a well-known, beloved person in his home state of California (a small pond) to a not-quite-as-well-known but critically acclaimed and pretty well-liked person in the broader United States (the ocean). He talks about death a lot, so the goldfish-in-salt metaphor is pretty good.

What’s special about “Big Fish” by Vince Staples:

Lizzie: “Big Fish” is special because it’s relatable and could be a metaphor for absolutely anything. Are you a big fish in a small pond? A big fish in a big pond? Are you trying to keep your head above water while everything around you points to imminent danger? Are you a pescatarian?

are you a pescatarian?

Kaitlyn: “Big Fish” is special because it’s a good reminder that not all of your summer jams have to be peppy, it’s okay to indulge in some humidity-induced gloom, and a good reminder that Vince Staples is releasing a new album soon called Big Fish Theory. It should also give you a little nudge to recall some of Vince’s other music videos, which he famously comes up with the concepts for himself. For example, in a 10-minute short film for his 2016 EP Prima Donna, Vince raps as a bobblehead version of himself.

Personally, “Big Fish” is a good reminder of the time I went to a Vince Staples concert with my friend Lizzie, who writes one half of One Video every week.

Lizzie: Kaitlyn says there was a goldfish at that show. I don’t know what she means. Maybe there was one.

Kaitlyn: There was, and it was integrated into the light show and graphics that accompanied the music. It was Vince’s way of hinting that this day — the day of the “Big Fish” video — would come eventually. Lizzie couldn’t see it because there were tall men in front of her, and she’s quite small.

How long everyone should watch “Big Fish” by Vince Staples:

Lizzie: I would stop watching just before the end when something unseemly may or may not happen to Vince.

Kaitlyn: As is often the case, I pick “watch it the whole time.” If you watch all of “Big Fish” you might be lucky enough to discover that the YouTube algorithm has queued up a Pitchfork interview next. In it, Vince Staples says he believes Bill Nye the Science Guy is underrated: “Bill Nye is the reason all these kids know how to proportion their lean in their beverages.” It turns out Vince is a science fan after all.