Vince Staples Talks Redlining, Gaslighting & Gatekeeping On ‘The Vince Staples Show’

Vince Staples

Source: Hip-Hop Wired / iOne Digital

Vince Staples is multitalented and multifaceted, but you probably won’t ever hear him calling himself a genius or whatever ego-stroking adjective of the moment creatives choose. Instead, the guy who you probably first came to know as the critically acclaimed rapper repping North Long Beach, California,—or maybe as an actor, like the scene-stealing Maurice in Abbott Elementary—is simply, and humbly knocking his creative endeavors out of the park, as is the case with The Vince Staples Show.

The series, whose five-episode season premiered Thursday (Feb. 15), was commissioned back in 2019, before COVID-19 changed history’s trajectory. But while many shows ended up abandoned, Netflix stood steadfast with the series—loosely based on Staples’ everyday life—which includes Kenya Barris (Black-ish) as an executive producer.



“Covid kind of stopped everything so for us to still be around after Covid when a lot of things got canceled, [that] said a lot about how they felt about the project,” Staples told Hip-Hop Wired. “So we wanted to make sure that we executed, and we executed in a timely manner and did something that was specific and special for the platform. And so many things are on Netflix so we just wanted to make sure that there was no other show like the one we were creating.”



The Vince Staples Show, which itself can be considered the evolution of his YouTube series, will garner plenty of comparisons. Chappelle’s Show is an easy one, along with Curb Your Enthusiasm or Atlanta. That’s not bad company to keep but it’s Staples’ dry wit and deadpan delivery often seen and heard in his interviews that filter onto his onscreen persona and gives the series a sharper edge and tone that makes it anything but derivative.

In one moment, Staples could be getting the “otherwise qualified Black guy seeking a loan” treatment at the bank, then conversing matter-of-factly with the leader of the bank robbers who happened to be starting the heist when the protagonist was trying to walk out the same building. The crashing of everyday struggle with “is this really f*cking happening right now?” instances, and plenty of hilarious moments, is a staple, no pun, of the series.

“We definitely wanted to do that,” explains Staples, who co-wrote all the episodes with a team of writers that include Maurice Williams and Ian Edelman. “It was intentional because that’s life, you never know what it’s going to throw your way and within these environments, sometimes it can get extremely crazy. But also, we’ve been taught to keep our composure. And if something is normal you don’t understand when it’s abnormal to the rest of the world.

He adds, “That’s something I wanted to make sure the characters felt; when things get crazy to their standards that doesn’t mean it has to be crazy to our standards. And we wanted to make sure we played that fine line of being able to know the environment is outrageous, but not thinking it’s too much for the characters because it is their environment.”

The aforementioned bank episode (Episode 2 titled “Black Business”) features one of Staples’ favorite scenes, and for good reason. “I think it was shot really well. I think the dialogue was very unique and specific, and it was something I think people aren’t going to be expecting to come from me, or to come from the show. So I’m actually very happy we were able to pull that one off.”

The episode is when The Vince Staples Show really finds its rhythm and is destined to become a fan favorite. One particular line from Staples that resonates is when he waxes philosophic on dealing with redlining, gaslighting and gatekeeping—just several realities even the most upwardly mobile people of color deal with inevitably.

“The line is just typical to what we deal with within these communities,” says Staples. “It never goes away and I think that was an important part of this show. To showcase that a lot of the issues that we have as people, as Black people, as Black people from these environments; they’re not gonna go away just because you get a little bit more money because the systems are so deeply rooted in the structure, in the fabric of this world, of this culture, everything. It was definitely something that you still feel and something that I try to string throughout the episodes.”

Vince Staples keeping it cool as everyday life in North Long Beach, whether blatantly or subtly, goes off the rails? Definitely on brand.

The Vince Staples Show is streaming right now on Netflix.