Vince Staples, the Long Beach native best known for his work with Earl Sweatshirt and his most recent previous foray into shining rap torch bearing, Shyne Coldchain II, is fit to burst onto the scene. But, hold on. The newly turned 18 year old is so wise beyond his years that he’s constantly hinting at quitting before he get’s started. Well, before his recently dropped contender for project of the year Hell Can Wait, that is.
It’s another example of super A&R No I.D’s creative-arts handiwork blessing another young emcee with the tools to create music close to their own heart. The result has been a authenticity parade, wherein artists are specifically asked to make art instead of being specifically asked to sell music or tickets or what-have-you. Vince is a benefit of that hyperion-like focus on making quality, experience driven music that resonates beyond it’s usual echo chamber. “No I.D. is basically pressin’ people for me,” said Staples, and who these days ventures to have that much trust in their chief?
But, here, we caught him just before his big reveal this past week, and while he was tight lipped about the project waiting in the wings, we found him fairly open to just about anything else. From why Rappers are still “the guy on the corner with the drums and the sign,” to why Childish Gambino’s Because… The Internet was the best album of 2013 and how you can’t trust Barack Obama, Vince was both serious and extraordinarily luicd for a young rap lion. “All I’m saying is that niggas are in it for attention. I don’t care… I have never worn a chain in my life and I never will. I had a G-Shock in like the ninth grade. I fuck with the music, but all the extra shit, they can keep that. The music and the money is cool with me.” And, with Hell Can Wait, he may also prove to be ahead of his time.
Vince Staples Talks Not Getting Boxed In & What “Authenticity” Means
HipHopDX: Hey, man. You’ve been on tour for quite a while, how’s the been going?
Vince Staples: I’ve been on tour for two years straight almost so it’s cool – it’s work, this is how you’re gonna get paid. This is a little business. But, it’s cool. The most important part to me is being able to see everything. So going to these new places and figuring out stuff you didn’t see before. And just seeing that everyone is the same. You learn a lot on the road so that’s what I’m on. Trying to figure this little thing out while I got time to be able to walk around before and after the show.
DX: How does it feel to have so many people supporting what you talk about, and relating to you?
Vince Staples: One thing I tell people about rap or just music in general that involves people buying your records… Just personally how I feel, like I haven’t really bought that many CDs in my life. I’m not even going to pretend that I have. Everything that I’ve bought have been from the same people. If you look at people that are successful, they never really follow the pattern that people think they gotta go by. Like, there’s only one you at the end of the day, so. So, if you’re selling yourself and marketing yourself and that’s really what your music becomes because those people are buying into you as a person. Then, whatever the music is, that’s where you’re at at that point in your life. So that’s what I feel like I try to do with my music or kind of apply to it so the fact that I have so much support means that people are supporting me. They’re not buying a song, and it’s not a small moment in time or whatever. They really are trying to be in this for the long haul for the stuff that I do so it’s appreciated greatly.
DX: Who’s a rap fan these days?
Vince Staples: It depends. The majority of the people listening to music are just little nerdy kids, just to be 100% honest with you. That’s who comes to everybody. That’s who’s going to be at the ScHoolBoy show, the YG show, the Donald Glover show. It’s the same kids at everybodys show, but I feel like I don’t really want to limit nobody. A lot of times people try too hard to be on the streets on some corny shit, like, “nigga, I’m ghetto.” That’s cool, but nobody really cares at the end of the day. Like, nobody’s gonna care when you get shot. So, the thing about that shit is you can be like… It’s cool when it’s not real. It’s like the zoo. Music is like the zoo, especially Rap music and black music in general. Like, you got all these people sitting outside the glass and it’s cool to point at the lion and shit, but nobody gonna hop they ass in that motherfuckin’ box. But, it’s cool to look at it happen. But once it’s real and once you’re in the line of fire and once it’s dangerous then it’s not okay, no more. Then you’re a wild animal, but, before that it’s a novelty type thing. So, I really don’t want to limit my music to nobody because I feel like I don’t want to be one of those motherfuckers where they’re like, “Oh, look, he’s ghetto.” It’s not realistic. There’s not one type of person in any environment. I got homies whose parents have money, but they’re the wildest people I know. And I know homies who are doing something good with themselves and they were in the worst projects. So, I don’t really want to limit it. So I’ll say that I want my fans to be everybody.
DX: There’s a lot of talk about “authenticity” in Rap. How do you think “authenticity” is viewed now?
Vince Staples: I mean, you just said it. It’s a game, these niggas is playing. Everybody sell cocaine and they make 30K per shipment and they’ve got three shipments a week but they’re still rapping even though you gotta pay taxes and you gotta stress your ass out and go on the road and all this other shit. You gotta spend money to make money, but you were making more money selling your little cocaine than you’re doing rapping but you’re still rapping. And it don’t ever make no motherfuckin’ sense. Like, come on, bro. These guys ain’t really doing half the stuff you think they’re doing. The one’s you’re not thinking about are the one’s that are probably doing it. That’s probably the best thing about the West Coast. That’s the best thing about our music because most of the people that’s out now is actually about something. But if you look there’s nobody really out there trying to be hard. Just like rappers ain’t doing that 90s [stuff], trying to slap a nigga up shit (most of them niggas was corny). So you have to think: it’s musicians. It’s art. They’re not really like that. And, there’s nothing wrong with rappers not really being like that. Like Makonnen, he raps about selling this and selling that, but even if he is, he doesn’t carry himself like a dickhead. What you trying to act hard for? What you trying to do? You’re gonna go to jail, if you know the right person. Loon doing like 14 years for knowing [the right] somebody right now. So, I don’t buy into any of that.
DX: So then do you appreciate all the characters in Hip Hop right now like Riff Raff?
Vince Staples: Of course, because they’re not taking themselves too seriously. Fuck should I be mad for? People think I’m one of those kinds of niggas. Life’s too short to really be on some shit like that. You need niggas like Riff Raff. Fuck, I was just telling you, like Soulja Boy… That’s who we grew up on. I don’t feel like it’s a need to take yourself so seriously all the time. Even if you look like 50, he knows how to tell a joke. Nobody’s hard 24/7. So you just need to be a person and just be full circle with your shit.
Vince Staples Explains “Shyne Coldchain II” & Fan’s Expectations
DX: It seems like you use music like therapy. Why do you drop such personal situations and lyrics in your music?
Vince Staples: I wasn’t on that at first. It was literally what should I rap about for every single song before “Versace Rap”. The name of the beat is this, so this is what it’s going to be about and that’s really where I was at. But, I just stopped caring, like, if it works it works and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I’ve always been like that, but then I really got to the point where there was a lot of shit that was going on in my life like growing up and being almost 18, and really just having to be grown, because that’s a quick transition when you come from our environment. Like, my momma was… she wasn’t really taking care of me, like she was doing shit, but you don’t really rely on your parents so you’re out on your own. You’re young. I wasn’t going to school. I didn’t have no job. I wasn’t doing nothing so it was like, “fuck it.” If something happens then niggas was going to know who I was. That’s how I still look at the music. Niggas got bangers, but it ain’t time for that. You gotta chronicle stuff. I gotta get all of that out of the way. Kind of paying dues’, some would say.
DX: So is that what you were trying to do with Shyne Coldchain II?
Vince Staples: Yeah, I would say that. That’s really more where I was trying to go with that Stolen Youth shit and Shyne Coldchain I was trying to figure out how to put out actual songs with that Shyne Coldchain II just to be honest. That’s really what I was trying to figure out how to get all that stuff right because that’s important.
DX: How do you think people view you and your music? And what’s the difference between that perception and reality?
Vince Staples: It depends, though. I’ll see motherfuckers hit me up and be like, “Dam, I’m scared of this nigga,” and I don’t know why. And other nigga’s will say, “This nigga full of shit.” Like, alright. I don’t really care. At the end of the day you can’t tell me I don’t know what I know. You can’t tell me I haven’t seen what I’ve seen. You can’t tell me who my momma’ is, you can’t tell me who my daddy is. You ask my parents about my music and they’re going to say, “Yeah, that’s what happened.” And my momma ain’t gonna lie for me. You gotta take it for what it is. Whether you’re in the streets or the workplace — no matter where you’re at — motherfucker’s are gonna try to figure you out who they think you are no matter what you’re doing. You can be the nigga at McDonalds and you’re working the fries and the nigga that’s working the burgers is going to think you’re an asshole and the nigga that mop the floor is going to think you’re his best friend. So, that’s just apart of life, you can’t really think too much about it. But, I do appreciate people who just take it for what it is. But, a lot of people don’t want to take it for what it is. As people we feel the need to have to know. Like, this has to be this. It has to be specifically this or it doesn’t make any sense. And, as a people, that’s one of our main fucking problems. But, at the same time, we don’t want to accept the truth for what it is. Like, all these people wandering around here saying, “I’m not black, I’m Creole.” Man, you black. You’re just a different type of black person. Why can’t we just be rappers? Why can’t you just be somebody that’s making music? Why can’t this just be your side of the story?
Vince Staples’ Tackles “Rap Reality” vs. “Rap Fiction”
DX: So what kind of lessons have you picked up from the label?
Vince Staples: I don’t care about that shit, bro. I got a good ass manager. I got a good ass A&R. No I.D. is in there pressin’ niggas for me. I don’t even be over there, but it’s all the same. It’s a business so you gotta act like it’s a business. The second you stop going to work is the second you fuck your whole shit up. So, I go to work. The label is my boss and they gotta cut my paycheck. It’s all a compromise. They compromise you by giving you money before you even do anything. So you have to compromise by giving them something that they can do something with. And, that’s where I’m at right now and I got no problem doing that because what the fuck else am I going to do? I didn’t graduate from High School. My record’s kind of, eh. Nothing crazy. I dont’ have any felonies or anything but I got some questionable shit that’s not gonna let me get no retail job or anything like that. So, let’s be rappers and act accordingly.
DX: You said before you feel the need to stay humble, why is that?
Vince Staples: Because it’s true. At the end of the day there’s a nigga with a regular job that’s making more money than 80% of rappers, yearly. For real. There’s a dude that works at the oil refinery right now with an AMG or some crazy shit like that. I see him every time I’m going home. Hard-hat and everything. So it’s not about that. So, I feel like you’re doing a service. Being a rapper, not to be corny, is like being a teacher in some ways. You can be a nigga with millions of dollars, but every nigga on the Forbes list didn’t get it from rapping. They got it from some outside shit. I tell kids who tell me they wanna rap that if they expect to get paid a lot of money you should go to college. And niggas look at me like I’m being an asshole, but it’s real. This shit is a sacrifice. You’re telling your life story. Everything you’ve ever been through, everything you’re going to go through, how you feel about the world, and somebody is looking at you trying to figure out if you deserve their money. And then they get to figure out how much of their money you deserve. Like, “Nah, I’m not going to buy the whole CD, I’m going to buy a single.” So, you the nigga on the corner, still. You still the nigga on the corner with the drums and the sign. “I’m a give a dollar. No, I’m a give him $20. Oh, I’m just going to buy this $100 t-shirt.” Your life is in the hands of others, so, I feel like why would you not be humble because these mother fuckers fend for you. Once motherfuckers feel like, “Fuck you, you’re an asshole,” you’re done.
DX: Andre 3000 mentions something like that at the end of T.I.’s “Sorry” when he says and all you can say is that “that verse ain’t good. It’s boring?” And it hits you that people don’t look at artists in that way.
Vince Staples: It’s crazy. You have to pay more taxes than everybody. You gotta understand, the taxes are crazy. When you go out of state and you’ve traveled and get paid you have to pay taxes in multiple states. They don’t think about that, either. But they want to make fun of rappers because they broke. It’s funny to make fun of a dude when he ain’t got no bread, and you ain’t probably got no bread. But, you can go get a job. He probably can’t go get a job because everybody knows his face. So that dude is fucked. But it’s funny because he ran out of money because you wanted to stop paying him. But, that probably happened because he was being an asshole. It’s like, my manager used to tell me, these child stars from these shows… Take Bud Bundy. When he walks around people are like, “That’s Bud Bundy. That’s Bud Bundy.” It’s probably going to make him mad until he ain’t got nothing to do any more. Then he’s going to be begging for somebody to call you Bud Bundy. Then you’re like, “Dam, that was me!” It’s like Eddie Kane from The Five Heartbeats. You the man until you ain’t got it no more, [and] then you’re dancing in a suit from 20 years ago trying to get somebody’s attention. So, I just feel like we gotta appreciate it and be humble because it’s an opportunity. But, also, people who listen to it have to understand the sacrifices made. It’s a two-way street.
I am not going to be rapping when I am 50 something years old. I do not care. I’m not about to buy the 2 million dollar house. I’m about the hit the KB homes, the toll brothers on some regular shit. I’m not into all that attention. I’m just not that kind of nigga. I mean, it’s cool. I fuck with it. When I say stuff like that I don’t mean, like, I don’t fuck with music [or] I’m not trying to be a rapper. All I’m saying is that niggas are in it for attention. I don’t care… I have never worn a chain in my life and I never will. I had a G-Shock in like the ninth grade. I fuck with the music but all the extra shit, they can keep that. The music and the money is cool with me.
Vince Staples Describes Not Trusting The Feds, “Hypocrisy,” & Long Beach
DX: That Barack Obama lyric had everyone on the web up in arms it seems, why do you think people were so stunned you’d say that?
Vince Staples: It wasn’t even that deep. He’s weird. You can’t trust no nigga whose waves always look the same. You can’t trust him. You think he du-rag it? I think Barack Obama wears a du-rag, and you can’t be a [POTUS] with a du-rag. But, no I don’t care about any of that stuff, man. They can pass as many laws as they want. l am from the ghetto. The only things that affect me are like the SB260 type shit that let the homies get out early, and gangsweeps. And that’s all state law so I don’t care who the President is. I’m never gonna vote, I’m never going to go to jury duty because I will sit in that motherfuckin’ room and tell you I am an active gang member and if I see anybody that’s from some other shit I’m going to make sure they get life. And they’re going to say thank you for your time. I don’t give a fuck about none of that government shit because it’s never done nothin’.
My grandpa went to the army and came home and all my family gangbang. That don’t make no sense. He got medals, was in the Marines, came home and he started gangbangin’. That should tell you something was wrong with that shit because you don’t have a problem going from that to that. It’s the same thing. It’s a bully tactic. It’s extortionary. “We’re bigger than you. We’re going to come kill you. Gimme’ this.” That’s all it’s ever gonna be. That’s how the world works, though. It’s been like that. You go back to Greece and Rome and Egypt, it’s just niggas punking niggas. People are animals at end of the day in the literal sense of the word. So, what the fuck you expect? Like, in gangbanging, there’s always one person that everybody likes, who’s the cool one. But he’s probably the same one telling niggas where everybody at and he get’s people killed. That’s what the President does. He’s the fun guy. The one that everybody likes. Just watch that guy. You can’t hold it against him. That’s the way it’s set up. I ain’t no saint. I fuck with it. Do what you gotta do. It’s nice over here. As long as it stays nice where I’m at you can do whatever you want because I’m not even going to pretend I care. Nobody really cares. Like, even with that Trayvon Martin shit. No one really cares at the end of the day. It’s just cool to pretend to give a fuck. What are you really gonna do? I swear to god when my cousin got killed niggas was on Crenshaw and one of the homies was like, “Yo, I’m about to go see what I can get over there.” But it’s like, “Dam, B, he died [and] you shooting niggas.” And you listen to gangster rap, and your favorite rapper done killed 50 niggas but once this nigga die it’s a problem? You gotta pick a way to be. Either it’s wrong or it’s right and that’s what people like. And that’s what people don’t understand. It’s either wrong or it’s right, period. And when you add all that other shit like, “Oh, he got killed by a white nigga.” Even though he wasn’t white, he was spanish or whatever. But if a nigga killed him, what you gonna say? Is it still fucked up?
DX: Because you see so much hypocrisy, do you distance yourself from people because of it?
Vince Staples: I don’t fuck with people. I be on my own shit. You’re never gonna see me at no release party, you’re never going to see me at the club. You’re never going to see me do none of that. I’m not with none of that. I ain’t never got high. I ain’t never got drunk. That just ain’t my shit. I just always stayed to myself. Even since I was younger. I got a few homies, and I’ve had the same homies my whole life, because I can’t really fuck with people like that. But, it’s like, I get it. It’s an escape. It’s a release. I get all of that shit, but me personally I can’t get with it. Like, I Tweeted one day something like, “It’s cool to Rap about it, but when a nigga really die it’s like, ‘Aw, well that’s so sad.’” We gotta stop the violence. It’s cool to rap about drugs, but when a nigga mom is strung out, it’s, “Why would you do that?” But, nigga, I though tit was cool just 10 minutes ago. That’s just life, bro. It’s cool to be rich, but not cool to take from the poor. But you want money, but you’ve gotta understand that money circulates, so if you got it, somebody else don’t. That’s just the general concept of it. It don’t make no sense, but it’s something that people don’t want to think about.
DX: Why do you think people behave that way, then?
Vince Staples: Because people are stupid. At the end of the day, people are stupid. You know what’s you’re told at the end of the day. If somebody came to you and told you you’re not supposed to shit in a toilet, you’re supposed to shit outside, you’re gonna look at them like they crazy. You’re gonna look at them like, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” It’s a simple concept. The fact that they say governments are bankrupt and this and that and we make money? Like, you just make it? You take a piece of paper and you print it but you can run out of something that you make yourself. And that’s what the world is based off of? Some shit that a nigga is making? What do you expect? It’s not supposed to make sense. I don’t think about that shit, I don’t care. I care about the people that live around the corner from me and my family. Because at the end of the day you start caring about that big shit it’s not going to do nothing… Unless you wanna get shot. I ain’t tryin’ to get shot. I got niggas that wanna kill me. I don’t need no niggas with aim trying to do some shit to me, “Fuck all that.”
DX: If somebody’s from another part of L.A., what should they know about Long Beach?
Vince Staples: I don’t know. Take it how you want it, but I’m gonna tell them what happened. It’s like a movie, bro. Me watching Goodfellas did not make me want to go be Italian. I was just like, “Damn, that shit’s crazy.” That’s all I need. A, “Damn, that shit’s crazy.” But, I mean, Long Beach ain’t never change. We got a college. We got a mall in Lakewood and we got some dirty ass beaches. And we got Fourth street and Ocean where the rich people live. Other than that niggas is gangbangin’. It ain’t gonna be in the news, but go to presstelegram.com, and niggas is gangbangin’ and Long Beach will never change because that’s what they set up the city to do. High Schools got the colors of niggas that bang over there. All the teams. The baseball team are the niggas that bang at that park. The football team are the niggas that bang at this park. That’s just what it is. It’s never gonna stop. So, Snoop Dogg can still Rap because it ain’t changed. But a lot of these niggas aren’t putting this forward from a genuine place, though. My homies have died over this shit, and not just trying to be hard, just being yourself. So, this shit, it means something to me. That’s what I can say. I want them to know that it means something to me and try to learn from my mistakes. I ain’t have no music to listen to when I was younger. All the music we had when we were younger just made us want to go and kill niggas. From Game to 50 to all of that. That’s all we had, and Kanye. Other than that, who else?
Vince Staples Shows How The Internet “Crippled” People
DX: With the Internet, man, fans have more power than ever…
Vince Staples: The Internet is a crazy animal. The Internet fucked up people, though. Everybody got a voice and people are dying over the Internet. For real. I’ve seen it. People are snitching on the Internet. Somebody dies, you’re gonna find out in 15 minutes who did it just by Googling something or searching on Twitter his name. “Rest in peace to the homie, fuck” and woop, woop, woop “you a bitch.” That’s really how it’s going down, now. The Internet is weird. I try to stay off that.
DX: You don’t use it a lot?
Vince Staples: Hell no. I Tweet from my phone. I get on my computer to listen to shit my engineer sends me and to watch Daylyte battles, but other than that I can’t man. There’s just too much going on. Put it like this, my little brother doing 15 years off of trying to prove something and got caught because he was too “out there.” But, I feel like it crippled people. I swear to God someone can know exactly who you are, you can have a conversation with them and when you see them they’re not going to say anything to you but they’re going to Tweet you like, “Eh, I just seen you over here.” That’s stupid! But that’s really what it is. It’s probably happened to everybody in this room. So, fuck you ain’t say nothing? I was at the L.A. County fair and somebody took a picture of the back of my head and then Tweeted me like, “Is this you?” I was at Paid Dues and got a Tweet with somebody asking, “Eh, is this you?” He took a picture of me and sent it to me. And there’s no service here so you’ve probably been trying to get that through for a minute. And, you gonna ask me if that’s me.
Vince Staples Discusses Internet Rap & Bobby Shmurda
DX: So does it make strange with people Tweet you or come to your shows?
Vince Staples: They be actin’ weird. “I know you don’t like me or you probably hate me.” Man, I don’t know who you are! What are you talking about? I’m not famous so I walk around after my shows, even before, and people stare at me and it’s like, “What’s up? You can walk over here. I’m not gonna sock you or nothing.” But human interaction is such a weird thing now-a-days because there’s so much online interaction. Motherfuckers think I’m shorter than Earl little ass because of the way some pictures are set up on the Internet. Perception, it’s gets skewed, kind of. It does get us where we are, so you have to accept it to a certain extent. It helps and hurts at the same time. It’s a glass ceiling with the online shit. There’s a gang of rappers who’re poppin’ online, a million Twitter followers, 2 million [Youtube] views, [but] you will never hear a nigga bumpin’ they music in the car, ever. It’s laptop rap, but you’re never gonna hear it outside. And that doesn’t mean it’s not good, it just means the listeners put it in that box, like, “this is what I listen to in the house.” If you pay attention to the Internet, Drake ain’t got no fans. Big Sean has no fans, Wale has no fans, J Cole has no fans. J Cole is the worst rapper alive if you listen to the Internet. But why is [Drake] going platinum? Why are these niggas selling out all these big-ass-shows? But the niggas that’s cool on the Internet can barely pack out a venue? So it gives you a false sense of reality.
DX: But people are out here getting deals off the Internet. Bobby Shmurda, for example.
Vince Staples: I fuck with Bobby Shmurda, because if someone’s going to give you a million dollars, fuck it, give it to ‘em. It’s not hurtin’ me. Let that nigga get some bread. But then again it’s crazy because what are you going to fuck that nigga life up for? Because you want to be first? Because it’s only like three artists on all these labels that’s making all the money. They probably got some country singer that’s boomin’, some pop shit and, probably one rapper, probably. But you’re basing the label around a few people making money and you being able to piece their money together to make everybody else shit work. So they don’t really care what happens. It ain’t like when you sign for two million dollars they’re just putting two million dollars in your hands and then saying, “Here you go. See you later.” But, you never know. It could pan out, it could not pan out. Nobody was taking Drake seriously when he first came out and that’s the biggest artist out right now. He was corny, he was the kid from Degrassi. He was a joke and now three or four years at the most…
Vince Staples On Why “Because… The Internet” Was The Album of 2013
DX: How do you feel about other quote unquote Internet Rappers like Donald Glover?
Vince Staples: You know what’s funny? Donald Glover (I call that dude Donald Glover because that’s a hard ass rap name), I ain’t hear no Donald Glover songs. And then “3005” be on the radio all the time, and I did not know it was him. And I listened to a song and I was like, “This is hard,” because he was talking about Lebron’s mama’s boyfriend. And then this person that I work with was like, “Oh, that’s Childish Gambino.” I said, “Donald Glover?” And then I listened to his shit months ago, and that shit is so hard. What year did that come out? 2013? What else came out that year, Rap albums?
DX: Yeezus, Magna Carta Holy Grail, Run The Jewels, My Name Is My Name… It was a good year.
Vince Staples: So, GKMC came out in 2012, right? That was the best album of 2013, the Donald Glover one.
DX: Why do you say that?
Vince Staples: Because it was. What else is up there, Yeezus? Yeah. He know how to rap and the song sound good, fuck the rest. It’s not no bullshit and the song structure is good. The way he puts it together is good. It’s a good-ass-album. I don’t even know when it came out, but I got that motherfucker. Got it on iTunes, got the CD. I went and splurged. And the videos are tight.
DX: Would you ever want to work with him in the future?
Vince Staples: I don’t necessarily want to work with anyone, but I would. The reason I don’t put a lot of people on my songs is that my shit be specific as to the order and stuff like that. I want specific people to be on certain things, but it’s usually just my homies because I want a specific voice. I don’t want use anyone, though. 90% of features is because you want to use a motherfucker for his name. So that’s why I wouldn’t be like, “Come get on my song…” unless I had something specifically for them like I did with the Jhene shit, like I did with the Fauntelroy shit. But if I had something, definitely. If he asked for a verse, quick, I’d pass it in a hurry.