Today’s Song: “Bagbak,” Vince Staples’ Sinister Ode on Race Relations and Privacy

Vince Staples © James W. Mataitis Bailey

Vince Staples churns out another timely minority empowering club-banging anthem “BagBak” from his introspective of growing up as a black urbanite from Long Beach California. The 23 year-old rap prodigy under Def Jam Recordings’ arm debuted onto the scene with street lyricism through youthful eyes often calling out any governmental misdoings against the black community. This time around, “Bagbak” is going in for the kill with punchier beats paired with unremorseful lyrics about his newfound fame and the state of America — probably inspired from Donald Trump’s presidency.

Listen: “BagBak” – Vince Staples


Composition wise, “Bagbak” combines a euphoric thumb with a primal-ominous melody produced by Ray Brady –known for producing for The Black Eyed Peas, Kilo Kish and Prayers- complementing looping repetition lyricism from Vince. A distinction in “Bagbak” is his sharp concise flow, when Vince usually puts out verbose vignettes in his verses exemplified in Lift Me Up. He’s also no stranger to getting politically bold in his music yet “Bagbak” is far more direct and rawer than his past tracks that included subtle jabs.

This is for my future baby mama
Hope your skin is black as midnight
I’ll take you out that Honda
I can put you in a Benz
I can balance out your chakras
Fornication is a sin, we can fuck all night regardless
Our father art in heaven, as I pray for new McLarens
Pray the police don’t come blow me down ’cause of my complexion
Everybody think they know me now
Cause I’m chicken-checkin’
Negro, you are not my homie
How dare you think it’s different
Boy, you trippin’

In the opening verse, Vince praises that there’s nothing wrong with being darker skinned like Beyonce did in “Formation” where Queen Bee said “I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros.” In Vince’s words he says it’s beautiful like “black as midnight” but hopes that the police don’t signal him out for being black. He wants to put an emphasis on racial discrimination when it comes to policing. He then goes on to talk about his newfound fame. “Everybody think they know me now Cause I’m chicken-checkin.” Being in the spotlight has its woes and Vince doesn’t seem to appreciate strangers approaching him as if they are acquainted because they only know of his public persona.

Gas break ‘n dip, the cash came, I flipped
And stacked that, yeah I stacked that past the ceiling
So sacrilegious, don’t ask to chat
And don’t ask for pictures, bagbak I’m trippin’
Bagbak, better back, back, you don’t know me
Better bagbak, better back, back, you don’t know me
Better bagbak, better back, back, you don’t know me
Bagbak, better back, back, you don’t know me, homie
Vince Staples © James W. Mataitis Bailey

Vince Staples © James W. Mataitis Bailey

In the catchy repetitive hook, Vince gloats that he can now stack cash up to the ceiling –a stark contrast to his poor upbringings. In a stern tone Vince reiterates to fans that it’s rude and disrespectful to invade his private space by approaching him asking for pictures or wanting to chat about himself. In an edgy electronic voice “Bagbak, better back, back, you don’t know me” is looped where this is essentially Vince telling people to leave him alone.

Boy I’m buoyant, we are
Floating on them peons
Go in ’til they take my bro’nem out them CDCRs
Prison system broken, racial war commotion
Until the president get ashy, Vincent won’t be votin’
We need Tamikas and Shaniquas in that Oval Office
Obama ain’t enough for me, we only getting started
The next Bill Gates can be on Section 8 up in the projects
So ’til they love my dark skin
Bitch I’m goin’ all in

Vince holds himself in a higher regard than his haters sardonically referring to them as “peons.” He then takes a more serious turn, alluding to how he advocates for his brothers in the corrupt California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facilities from Vince’s perspective. He continues the rant taking direct jabs at the government criticizing the prison system and the uproar of the Black Lives Matter Movement’s message. He takes a firm stance stating he doesn’t want to vote for a president unless there’s a candidate of color. Vince doesn’t believe the current government officials want to help the black community. He’s urging people from the projects to fight to get in office and to make a real difference for their respective communities. In lay man’s terms he won’t stop his rang until there’s change “Til’ they love my dark skin … I’m goin’ all in.”

Clap your hands if the police ever profiled
You ain’t gotta worry, don’t be scary ’cause we on now
Ain’t no gentrifying us, we finna buy the whole town
Tell the one percent to suck a dick, because we on now
We on now, we on now
Tell the one percent to suck a dick, because we on now
Tell the government to suck a dick, because we on now
Tell the president to suck a dick, because we on now
We on now
Bagbak - Vince Staples

Bagbak – Vince Staples

In the final verse Vince galvanizes black communities urging them to stand together. “You ain’t gotta worry, don’t be scary ‘cause we on now.” He’s preaching not to be scared because if the community bands together they have nothing to fear. He wants the masses to know that the 99 percent united trumps the notorious one percent. The way he rhythmically repeats “we on now” seems as if he’s actually suggesting “we own them.” It’s also obvious how he feels about billionaire President Trump with lines that degrade him.

Overall, “Bagbak” serves as a strong surge into deep politically driven hip-hop music –the very controversial nature of what ignited hip-hop. “Bagbak” sounds as if Vince was traveling and was just pondering verbatim thoughts to himself and decided to jumble them all into short fast-paced successions creating a tune that is meant to be thought-provoking. He accomplished just that, calling out the injustices he sees.

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Vince Staples © James W. Mataitis Bailey

Kevin is a new contributing writer for Atwood Magazine. He’s also a New York City native and recent graduate from Baruch College who double majored in journalism and corporate communications. While in school he interned at some of the biggest record labels in the industry while taking classes to enhance his writing craft. His record label experience led him to now work at Universal Music Group. Musically, he’s drawn to anything urban-pop based. He’s a dog lover, advocate for diversity, and forever a Yankee fan. In his downtime he can be found dining at the many restaurants of the world. Follow Kevin on Twitter where he tweets about music news, world news, and pop-culture.