Vince Staples says growing up, he wasn’t worried about stacking paper, whipping Maseratis or any of the typical Hip Hop fantasies.

“At 14 years old, the problem was, ‘Man we really have to kill these niggas.’ Not what real Hip Hop was and who was Top 5,” the Long Beach, California rapper says in a cover story for The FADER’s Summer Music Issue. “Niggas from my neighborhood are dying and getting 15-to-life, and people use music as a distraction. I didn’t feel connected to hip-hop growing up. I never wanted a chain or a mansion. I just wanted niggas to stop dying.”

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Staples has taken this attitude to his music and, instead of offering an escape by flaunting his wealth (he goes and buys a Mercedes in the cover story), he raps about his life experiences in the streets of the Southern California city. The 22-year-old is now set to follow-up his double-disc debut album, Summertime ’06, with a six-track EP entitled Prima Donna.

The publication says the project tells a story that can be told forward or backward and continues the same dark tone of Summertime and his Hell Can Wait EP. Staples enlisted DJ Dahi and James Blake for production on the project, which is due out sometime this summer.

No I.D., who has served as a mentor for Staples, discusses his protege’s vision. He has previously compared the “Norf Norf” rapper to Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G. and Nas because of his wisdom at such a young age.

“Vince has a street perspective and an indie perspective as well,” the producer says. “His tastes are different, more diverse. He blends storytelling with the street perspective. He definitely has the potential and ability to become one of the greatest of his generation.”

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Although Staples maintains that he never wanted to be a rapper, he says the keep-it-real mentality that led him to get involved in gang culture as a kid is the same instinct that pushes him today.

“I was one of them kids, bro. I wanted all of it. I was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m here, I might as well do it for real,’” he says. “I can’t stand when motherfuckers half-ass it. That’s why I work so hard.”

Read the entire cover story at The FADER.

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Watch “Vince Staples Explains Vince Staples” here.

See the cover, shot by Daniel Shea, below.

Vince Staples