Vince Staples has been rapping for over a decade since coming up around Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt and the rest of the Odd Future collective, but one of the biggest lessons he’s learned came in the last couple of years.
During a recent interview with Desus Nice for GQ, the Long Beach rapper revealed SAINt JHN — who recently won two awards at the 2021 Grammys — gave him some tough love that resonated with him.
“I learned that the listener is coming to you because they want you to give them a break away from normality,” he explained. “This dude named SAINt JHN — he’s a great musician. Two years ago he said to me, ‘[Your music’s] good, but no one cares.’ I was like, ‘Explain that.’
“’Everyone’s busy,’ he said. ‘Because [the listener] just got off work. They might hate their wife. They might hate their husband. They might hate their kids. They hate their job. They hate the car. They hate the house. Life’s not perfect. They don’t have time to try to figure out what you’re trying to tell them. You’re just supposed to make them feel better and make them feel good. Put them in a specific space.'”
Staples added, “And that’s just something that I’ve been thinking about a lot. Something that I learned from him. I’m just learning how to have a balance of everything within the same space and just not necessarily put a lot of pressure on what we create.”
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Vince Staples also confirmed his self-titled album is set to arrive this summer, along with another LP titled Ramona Park Broke My Heart and a Netflix show in the works. He also reminisced on life on the road with Mac Miller and ScHoolboy Q, and how he had to learn to engage with the audience.
“I remember I was on tour with Mac Miller,” he said. “He and his security guard used to always say, ‘Oh, make sure you say your name, because no one knows who you are.’ That’s such a thing that you don’t think about. So it was mostly learning about introductory steps of making music. I remember going on tour with ScHoolboy Q and him going, ‘I hear you rapping, but it’s too slow. Make it faster.’ People would tell me how things work, and I’ll just keep asking questions along the way. People will remind you. I’ve always been detail-oriented as far as how I wrote, because I used to speak really slowly or I’d start stuttering.”
He continued, “I always had to make sure that my lines could convey something, because I wasn’t going to be able to do a bunch of crazy flows. My asthma was fucked up too when I was a kid. It was worse than it is now. So I try to make sure that I have specific things [to say] that stand out. I try to write certain things based on the beats I was getting.”