Vince Staples may barely be old enough to drink, but he’s already showcased the ability to craft stone-faced, somber tales about the realities of street life, appeared alongside Common and Jay Electronica on a track, and earned a position on Def Jam’s current roster. He’s currently in the midst of reaching his highest points of success in terms of both of creativity and his career, though he has yet to peak yet. A few mixtapes have given him his proper shine and spotlight, while promises of more music in the near future continue to tease the possibilities of potential classics. It’s a good position for anyone to be in, especially for someone who didn’t even think he’d be here in the first place.
With less than a month until the arrival of his next project, Hell Can Wait, here’s a recent Q&A conversation we had with the buzzing Southern California talent. Though Staples is one of those exceptionally-vivid rhyme-sayers who bares it all in his bars, we hoped to shed a little more light on the lyricist behind the likes of “Blue Suede” and multiple show-stealing guest verses.
Since you didn’t really choose to pursue rap as a career from the beginning, was it weird when your career started to pick up?
Not really just because I put the work into it. When you work hard at something it should pan out eventually, you just gotta be patient.
Considering you’re one of the biggest rappers right now who comes from Long Beach, is there really a huge difference in the mindset between someone from where you’re from and a place like Los Angeles?
LA and Long Beach are completely different. They’re different environments all together, there’s literally nothing similar about them. From the people to their voices to the way they dress to the way they interact with each other, it’s completely different. I know people who have never been to LA. They’re just culturally different.
You grew up with people who have never been to LA at all?
Yesm I grew up with a lot of people who have never been to LA, and if they have it’s just recently or just a couple times.
You’ve been straight-up about saying that many rappers are lying in their music. When it comes to fans of rap, do you think a lot of people really hold on to the words of what rappers say or do you think people can draw the line?
People don’t know who they are. Rap music got the whole world to start smoking weed eventually. Literally. Molly, lean, all the drug use is a direct reflection of our music — you can see that yourself if you’re really paying attention.
Is it just difficult for people who listen to rap to draw the line between what’s entertainment and what’s reality?
No, because rappers are passing everything off as reality, so they’re taking their word for it.
In the past too, you’ve talked about saying stuff in your music that could have possibly had real life ramifications. Have any issues ever occurred in real life because of something said in your music?
Nah, you know how it is. I’m not worried about that, I’ve done all that before. Ain’t nobody bigger than me, ain’t no one bigger than nobody else. We’re all the same. We’re all touchable. Anybody can get you.
You’re not too worried about having so much detail in your music then?
Ain’t nobody going to do anything to me. This sh*t ain’t new to me, this gang banging and all this stuff. If you’re scared, there’s no reason to do it, and I’ve never been scared and I’ve done it. The way I look at it, if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen and I felt like that before I was rapping.
A lot has been said about how vivid you are in your raps and you’re an artist whose detail-oriented. Where does that attention to detail come?
I’ve been observant. When I was younger a lot of the older people around me were just observant because that’s how you stay out of trouble and you’re able to deal with things in an appropriate way. And, it’s important to put details to things so people know exactly what you mean. I don’t want to be another person bullsh*tting these kids and making them get in trouble because they want to be like their favorite rapper.
At shows, when I tell people the story about how I dropped out of school people are cheering and shit and it’s funny to me because that ain’t cool. You don’t want to be the motherf*cker who has no no options. I don’t believe in telling people not to go to school, I don’t believe in people telling you to not get a regular job. At the end of the day, people have to deal with reality. We are longshots, rappers are longshots. Even to be where I’m at, which is nowhere near the top, it’s still a longshot to get here. I don’t believe you should mislead people and tell them there aren’t real responsibilities.
So you don’t want people to latch on to a negative message?
Yes. People tell me, “I’m a gangster rapper, I rap about killing n*ggas all day,” and that’s not really the case. Of course it’s something of that sort in some of the music but you have to understand where it’s coming from. Everything has a story, everything has a purpose, not everything you’re supposed to take how it is.
Lastly, do you have any particular projects in the works right now?
I’m working on an EP right now called Hell Can Wait and just trying to make the best music possible, because if you make the best music possible no one can say sh*t about you.