Vince Staples includes references to being a Crip in his music. However, the Long Beach, California rapper does not want that affiliation define his career. He spoke with MassAppeal to explain that gang banging is more than just representing a street or wearing a color.

“I’ll die for the homies because I grew up with them and I knew ‘em, we just happened to be over here,” Staples says. “As far as dying for a street sign? Fuck all that. That’s not really what happens. Nobody’s thinking like that, but if you watch the news and things like that, that’s what you’d think it was. ‘Oh, the blah-blah-bloody turf wars.””

The “Señorita” rapper says that television shows like Gangland have contributed to the glorification of gang culture. He recalls a time that a man came up to him and ScHoolboy Q, another rapper whose affiliation with the Crips permeates his music, after a concert and tried to act like a gangster.

“We had a show in Seattle, and a nigga walked up and was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m whoop-whoop-whoop from this-this-n-this,'” Staples says, “and I just started laughing at the nigga. Q was like, ‘Oh yeah, what’s up nigga? What you want?’ I’m like, ‘Are you serious my nigga? We’re in Seattle at a Rap show. You gangbanging here, with all these White kids outside? That’s how you gon’ do it? That’s how you feel?’ That shit is corny. Gangbanging already corny enough without outside people making us look dumber than we already make ourselves look.”

Staples says that violence is not limited to gang life. He says that police try to create a stereotype of gangsters, but he sees people who are in a gang are real people, too.

“It’s not really no innocent, completely innocent people in the eyes of the police so they not really talking about it like, ‘Oh, a gang member gets killed, blah, blah, blah,’” he says. “But at the end of the day, it’s all people. But, they don’t let you have your humanity when you’re part of a gang. They make up stories and make up all this other stuff that nobody’s really doing, so when people come visit, they expect low-riders and people standing outside on corners. That’s not real. People are just trying to take care of their kids, trying to take care of their kids and trying to find a job. Them is the gang members I know. I don’t know nobody that’s outside in all blue looking for niggas all day.”

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