COMPLEX: WHY VINCE STAPLES IS HOLLYWOOD'S NEWEST (AND UNLIKELIEST) SECRET WEAPON
WHY VINCE STAPLES IS HOLLYWOOD'S NEWEST (AND UNLIKELIEST) SECRET WEAPON
The new is an unlikely fit for selling a blockbuster made and distributed by The Walt Disney Company. It’s icy and aggressive, and ends with the refrain “Tell the one percent to suck a dick, because we on now.” The trailer's reworked version of the song, though, featuring excerpts from Gil-Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and set to Chadwick Boseman ripping the wheels off an SUV, sounds, in a word, awesome.trailer dropped, lighting up Twitter immediately. The star of the trailer—setting aside Michael B. Jordan for just a second—was its musical choice. Vince Staples’ “BagBak,” the driving piece of snarling dance music from the young California rapper’s
It’s the second time in about a week that Staples’ acerbic brand of hip-hop has sound tracked an ad for mass-market entertainment. —the sequel to the movie about giant robots fighting interdimensional-traveling aliens that promises to feature more giant robots fighting more interdimensional-traveling aliens other giant robots—features “,” a standout from Staples’ recent . Again, it feels like an odd choice for commercial song; “War Ready” is sparely produced by British electronic impresario James Blake, and heavily features a processed Andre 3000 sample from a 19-year-old Outkast song. Again, though, in a trailer-ready reinterpretation—this time fusing Staples with Tupac’s legendary “am I wrong cause I wanna get it on 'til I die?” proclamation and a heavy dose of atmospheric synths—it sounds cool as shit.
That’s a hell of a week for a young rapper, and the realization that Staples can be something of a commercial force is, at a glance, surprising. His music, while popular, seems decidedly anti-commercial. He raps about gang life in disconcertingly clear-eyed terms, openly agitates for racial revolution, and selects beats that function as dares: they sound like something no rapper can rap over, until he does it. It’s music that will never make its way to a McDonald’s campaign, and Staples—who flexing his prodigious skill on Twitter by continually taking aim at internet racists—will never be a spokesperson for Target. An action movie, though? He’s perfect for that.
Vince . Using it then to soundtrack Black Panther—whose setting of Wakanda is about as pure a distillation of the concept as anything that’s ever made its way into mainstream popular culture—is fitting. Moreover, he’s being used to sell two—maybe two— blockbusters of next year that feature a black lead. trades in Charlie Hunnan for John Boyega, and Staples’ music functions as a credibility-builder for the post-racial future the first film depicted.
It’s fun to notice that the exact things things that make Staples an unconventional capitalist, the dead-eyed hostility and scathing social observations, are what help him sell aggressive, futuristic movies. It lends the films some thematic weight, even if the trailers contain none. And (trailer editors: take note) it’s a formula that will keep working; pretty much anything in his catalogue will sound great when paired with giant explosions.