Interview: Vince Staples
Mon, 22 Jun 2015 11:37:48
The LBC's foremost 21st century poet on his two-disc journey Summertime '06, getting inspiration from rock music, fan connection, and so much more.
Hip-hop's biggest blockbuster arrives in the form of the debut album from Vince Staples, Summertime '06 [Def Jam]. Its two discs are as sprawling as Los Angeles county in terms of feeling and fire. Following up the critically acclaimed Hell Can Wait EP, Vince emerges as Los Angeles's most vibrant and vital voice. He raps with raw tenacity and artfully weaves together a vision that's as otherworldly as it is honest. As a result, this is a landmark for modern hip-hop and a 21st century classic in its own right. We spoke to Vince Staples in this exclusive interview about Summertime '06, the journey to get here, connecting to fans, and so much more.
How did you approach Summertime '06? It unfolds with a larger narrative. Was that always the intent?
The craziest thing is it just came naturally—as far as trying to find a point of reference for what we were aiming to deliver. A debut album is more of a turning point in your life. We were trying to find a reference for the turning point that we'd experienced before. That's what we came out with. There were certain stages from that time period that we decided to roll with. It has been a theme throughout my music and things that I say because I really feel like the examples of things you've gone through bring humanity to the listener.
Sometimes, we don't get looked at as actual people; we're more of a source of entertainment. I felt like the best way to go about that was to make it a very personal experience, not just in a darker sense, but also in a lighter sense. We tried to bring more of who we are as people to the surface, whether it's sonically, through the lyrics, or through the art and packaging. I was trying to display myself to the listener. That's where I went with the album. It turned out well from what I'm hearing from you right now!
Absolutely! Is that process of displaying yourself cathartic? What goes through your head when you're in the booth? Is it nerve-wracking?
It used to be. As you get older, you realize what's important in life, and it's not really about me. It's about the people who are listening that might need your help ten years down the line or ten minutes down the line when they listen to that song. We have the power to make something matter inside of someone's life whether it's bad or good matter. They hear what we're going through. Someone could be very happy. Then, they hear your pain in a song. Once it's over, they go back to their regular state. That's a lot of power and control we do have with this music.
It can be used in the opposite way to brighten someone's day up. I remove myself from it. No matter how you feel about it, you can't really let that determine how someone else will feel by hearing your story. It might be something that they might not want to share. They could share it with you by listening to your record, and you could help them get through their day. Life is hard. Life is hard for everybody. If I'm able to help people with that, you have no idea how much that means to me.