Certified Fresh: Vince Staples – Long Beach’s Baby Faced Microphone Killer
Hip-Hop Wired: Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 is a nuanced piece of work, but we noticed that high school is a central topic on the project. Why is that?
Vince Staples: I feel like I’m trying to chronicle something like kind of in a time leading up to whenever we do an album or anything big like that; just telling the story of how certain things happened. And I’m still in that time space. I ain’t really pass that yet, you know what I mean? As far as that series goes, that’s the position that we’re in right now. I haven’t really finished telling that part of the story. As soon as I’m done telling that story, it’ll be over, which will be relatively soon. I feel like everything should be in order, just to let the listener gauge where I’m coming from.
HHW: A lot of your rhymes contextualize your thoughts on Black culture. Who inspired those thoughts?
Vince Staples: My grandparents were real big on that growing up, and my mom. My grandfather from Haiti. My grandmother is from the Dominican Republic, like them type of areas. Coming to LA from them places – well, moving to Louisiana, because that’s the closest area to that part of the world – they moved from Louisiana to out here dealing a lot of the sh*t that they had to deal with. It was always something that they put in our heads, just so n***as would be aware of what was going to happen to them growing up.
I was never not aware of how people looked at me growing up, and that was actually something that stuck with me throughout my whole life. I still think like that, [but] it’s not as bad as it was when I was younger, because a lot of that sh*t comes from a negative place. Even in the positive, I still be feeling a certain way. I know what it is and what it ain’t when it comes to sh*t like that.
HHW: Do you read up on folks you mentioned on the project like Bunchy Carter, etc.?
Vince Staples: It’s just something that’s always been in my life. It’s always been around. It’s pretty much all my family. I took a class on it when I was in Atlanta during those six months. Besides that, it’s not something that I went too far into. When you get older, you experience things that make you realize what your parents were saying. It’s pretty much that more than everything.
HHW: How different was it growing up in Long Beach as compared to Los Angeles?
Vince Staples: LA different. LA is nothing like Long Beach. If you ask anybody from the LA area, they’ll tell you that Long Beach is a completely different world. Whether it comes to stupid street sh*t or even regular sh*t, it’s not even slightly similar. We’re really in our own so to say, and are alien to a lot of extra problems that nobody else had to deal with. Everybody knew each other growing up. It’s a small place and you can’t really be running. We got a very strong police presence, but we still got a really high crime rate. It’s just a lot of things that goes into what’s going on out here that [outside] people really don’t gotta deal with.
HHW: Speaking of your upbringing, you talk about how your dad laced you with new Jordans through crime, but at the same time you also mentioned being dead broke. What’s the disconnect between those parts of your life?
Vince Staples: I was a young kid when my dad was really going to jail. When I was born my dad was in jail. But my dad stopped going to jail eventually – he stopped getting real time – but also at that time, he stopped f**king with my moms, so I didn’t see my dad for a very long time.
HHW: So that’s when times got rough?
Vince Staples: I was like 16 or 17 with no f**king money. We wore uniforms in middle school, so in middle school, I didn’t know we were broke. I knew we didn’t have money like that, but I thought we were regular. When it came time for high school, that’s when I knew we ain’t have sh*t.