April 1st, 2014 | Interviews

dan kern

Long Beach hasn’t had an MC like Vince Staples in a generation. The north side of Long Beach, Ramona Park to be specific, hasn’t had an MC like Vince ever. Heads first heard Vince via Earl Sweatshirt’s infamous debut tape, when he was a teenager spitting a very crude verse that belied deeper talent. In the years since, he’s amassed a considerable buzz with
Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, Winter in Prague with Michael Ozuwuru and Stolen Youth with Mac Miller, projects too thematic and cohesive to be called mixtapes. NO ID helped secure him a platform at Def Jam and by the time this issue hits the stands, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 may have already dropped. [It’s out now—ed.] Now, Staples has come into his voice. He’s from a place where poverty was normal and gang banging was permaculture, but there’s more to his music than what passerby might see as a tired attempt at authenticity and violent realism. Instead, there’s nuance and affection in his stories of life east of the 710 Freeway. I spoke with the 20-year-old MC over the phone right before he joined Schoolboy Q and Isaiah Rashad on tour. We talked about Ramona Park, Long Beach gangbanging culture and why Team Jordan sneakers suck. This interview by sweeney kovar.
One of the things I like about you as a rapper is you’re really vivid with your storytelling. Do you consider yourself a writer as well as a rapper?
Yeah, in the sense that I write the songs—but I feel like every writer is a rapper, so to speak. Everybody’s story is a little different. That depiction comes through life experiences, shit that I’ve seen. Of course it’s more detailed and more thought-out because it’s coming from a different place. It’s not coming from like, ‘Oh, OK—I’m going to write this song so I could have a song.’ I want to make my music chronicle my life and really tell my story. When someone’s telling their story, they want it to be as accurate and as vivid as possible—just to give the listener that experience.
Do you read any writers in particular? Or do you have any experiences you think influenced the way you write?
I went to good schools. I always had teachers that stressed the importance of it. Growing up and going to school, I read certain books and all these other things, and to me they never really got to the point. What I try to do is to make it as understandable as possible for whoever is going to be listening because I want them to get it wholeheartedly.
On Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, you have heavy involvement from NO ID. I’m assuming that has something to do with being on Def Jam?
A lot of that Def Jam situation was based on NO ID wanting to help. He heard my music and wanted to help and work with us. A lot of the situation was predicated on that. It’s good working with somebody like that who understands the music, who understands how to get what needs to be gotten out of an artist. He’s really, really hands on. He helped a lot and it’s not half-assed—he’s in it just as much as us. Really I’m just focused on what me and NO ID are doing. We just started. We haven’t really gone in like that. It’s just been like, ‘You want some beats?’ That type of thing. He gave me some beats and we rapped on that. I feel like we have a lot that we could do. I’m really not big on producers—growing up I wasn’t that much of a rappin’ dude. I listened to it but I really didn’t know a lot about it. As I go into this and learn more who these people are and what these people have done, I’m really willing to work with anyone that’s trying to help and is really bringing something to the table. It’s not really a name thing—it’s just more of working with whoever understands the vision of what we’re trying to go for.
You mentioned that growing up you weren’t about rap like that. So when you first started rapping, was it an easy transition?
Not really. I didn’t know how to rap on beat and I really was monotone because that wasn’t my life. I’ve never been like an attention-seeking person. How it happened was kind of random. I had to grow into where I am now. It was all a process. But I could always write. I never got a paper that I didn’t get a good grade on and I never had a paper that I didn’t do the day before. I always knew how to write, I always knew how to get my point across. Translating that into rap music was the hardest part. I’ve grown to love it. My passion didn’t really sound like it was there at first but then as life goes on, you get sick of the shit you was doing and you gotta provide for your family—you want to get away from the bullshit. That really inspired me to take it as far as I have now. My hunger for it came over time.
Are you at your hungriest now?
Yeah. I’ve grown a love for it. My mom is proud of me. I can honestly say now that my mom is actually proud of me. My family’s proud of me, they call me on some happy shit. I’ve never had that before. It’s always been like, ‘How are you doing? Are you staying out of trouble? We love you.’ That’s always been my relationship with my family: ‘Stay out of trouble. We love you.’ Now it’s, ‘Oh, look at what he’s doing! Look at what he’s doing!’ That’s crazy for me to see. It’s more of a thing for them. One of my grandma’s sisters called me saying she heard my song—she’s 80 years old. That’s really what means a lot to me. I’m really telling the history of my family, things that we’ve been going through our entire lives. That stuff is generational. They really appreciate it more than anybody else.
Have you ever had second thoughts about being so personal? You speak in vivid detail about your life in your old tapes and the new song ‘Nate.’
At first I never wanted to talk about myself. I listened to the people around me: ‘You’re funny, just be funny when you rap.’ I never took it serious. I was kind of ashamed of it because coming up how I came up you don’t wanna be the motherfucker that’s like, ‘Yeah, I do this, I do that, I fucked this ho, I do that.’ It’s kind of embarrassing in a sense because I never grew up on some being proud of that type of shit—it was just something that we all did. I never really wanted to speak on it. It wasn’t something that I really wanted to put too much into. I didn’t want to be the person that was talking all the negative bullshit. I had a problem with it, but then I had to understand that it’s not negativity—it’s just who you are and there’s nothing wrong with being who you are. I came to that realization and my music benefited greatly from that.
I wanted to ask you about Ramona Park. What was Ramona Park like growing up versus what it’s like now?
It’s cameras in the park now. Growing up, I wasn’t pushing none of that. I was pushing my daddy and my mom and my grandparents’ neighborhood when I was younger. My parents is from Compton but I grew up in Long Beach—my friends were from Long Beach but I was on that until I got old enough and I started losing my friends. We used to hang out at Mayfair Park down the street. When Ramona Park was really, really active was kind of before my heyday. When we started, people was getting put on at the park—we were hanging out at the park, kicking it around the park but it wasn’t really hot on the park. It was hot on the street that I lived on. That’s when I really, really got into it. ‘Fuck it, this is where we at, this is where we from’-type shit. Me and my little brother were like, ‘We’re not from Long Beach, we’re from Compton.’ That’s obviously not true. Our parents moved us out to get away from that but you know, growing up looking up to your parents that’s what you’re gonna be on. Ramona Park was really hot before, when Joey and them were running around. They’re all older than me. I’m one of the youngest people from my neighborhood. When I got really into it, it was because they were shooting up my house so I was like, ‘It’s for real now.’ That whole gang shit is different. There’s always a bigger picture but it’s things that personally affect you that pick the way you apply yourself to it.
Can you talk about that? Some people that read this are going to have no experience with gang culture besides the movies or the news.
It depends on the city. L.A. gang banging is way different than Long Beach gang banging and Long Beach gang banging is way different than Compton gang banging, though those are the two most similar parts because we’re the closest. You got areas that are Latino dominated, you got areas that are black dominated. You got areas that are mixed. In Long Beach we got black and Mexican and Asian gangs. It’s not a lot of Asian gangs in other cities so they have different dynamics. It’s something that honestly will never make sense and add up to the people that haven’t experienced it. You have to be there. Out here we don’t understand why we’re in Iraq, we don’t understand why we’re fighting in other countries—but when you’re there it makes all the sense in the world. To the outside world it’s ‘we need peace, world peace’ and all this other stuff, but you can’t speak no world peace shit when somebody just killed your homie for no reason or somebody shooting at where your family live and you gotta protect your mother. It’s in the meantime—it’s a meantime-type thing. That’s why it won’t ever be understood on a large scale. People try to say it’s a war on gangs. Our fight is really against poverty. When you’re broke you gotta make do and making do usually puts other people in the crossfire because if you ain’t gonna give then you’re gonna take. That’s human nature. In the animal kingdom you got the lion that’s killing the gazelle that never did anything to anybody but that’s how that lion gotta eat. It don’t know no other way.
Was there an individual moment when you made up your mind that you needed to find a different route?
It wasn’t even no different route. I fell into rap. I still love my homies wholeheartedly. I never been the nigga that was like, ‘What I’m doing is right,’ but I’ve never been the nigga to be like, ‘What I’m doing is wrong.’ I just understood it was what it was and when rap picked up it was like … you can’t be in the hood all day. You can’t do this all day because that’s how you go to jail. I was smarter with my shit. I wanted to take advantage of it and try to get the money because there’s no money in the streets. It ain’t really no big drug selling going on in Long Beach, it’s just gang banging for sport. You can’t do that forever and my momma did it, my daddy did it, my grandparents were around when that shit first started. My whole family is into that, whether it’s secondhand or directly. I always knew it ain’t forever. Rapping just happened to be my thing that I fell into on some destiny-type shit. I never was one to rap and take this shit serious. I still hang out with my homies, I still kick it but my homies don’t want me to. That’s what I know, that’s my family. I come around and they’re like, ‘Alright, you gotta go home because you’ve been here too long.’
How does it feel for you when you go to the neighborhood and you see the people that you came up with but you know that you have more options?
It ain’t no big deal because I’m really from there. That becomes a situation when people are buying hood passes, or they know somebody they never really been around because it ain’t no love. If your brother go to the NBA and you lived in the same house, you went to the NBA, you know what I mean? They don’t want to mess that up. That makes everybody look good. I just had a video shoot [for ‘Nate’] and my homies came out and stood off to the side. They weren’t trying to get in the video. They were on some … ‘We want to make sure you’re alright over here and we’re proud of you,’ then they were on their way. Nobody wants to be in the videos, nobody wants their name out. That’s not their life. This is my world. When it come time to do all the extra shit my name don’t even be thought to come up. That’s not my role no more. Everybody has their role. That’s really my people. I really love them. They’d die for me, I’d die for them regardless of what I have going on. To them, I’m Jay-Z. Even though I’m not out, I’m the closest to it. I just moved away from there and I didn’t even move that far. I’m right down the street, so to say. That’s my home but that’s not my place. My place in my community has changed. I have to act accordingly. It’s all good, it’s all love. Them is my people at the end of the day. They’re gonna be the last person to ask me for something and the first people to ask me if I need anything. It’s different when it’s actual. A lot of these motherfuckers ain’t really from where they say they from. They want the gang banger pass, they want this, they want that. So you gotta pay up. You gotta put niggas in videos, you gotta put niggas on. It ain’t none of that with me. My niggas is like, ‘Damn, one of us really made it from out here.’ Growing up, Snoop Dogg was from the east side of Long Beach. We didn’t really have nobody where I’m from. We didn’t have nobody do nothing where I’m from. It ain’t even niggas in the NBA! Everybody from the east side—you got Cameron Diaz and all that shit but they’re not from the north, they’re from the east side. I’m the first one from the north to do anything, ever, no matter what it is. That means something to me.
Is it weird for you to see folks who have to buy the hood pass?
People have been doing that since I was in school. You got the nigga that’s from L.A. but lived in Long Beach his whole life but he’s from the L.A. gang. Niggas have been fronting our whole life. It ain’t nothing new. The gang shit is what we do. It’s Southern California. It ain’t no escaping it no matter where you at. It’s in North Hollywood, it’s in Compton, it’s in the [San Fernando] Valley, it’s in Perris, California, it’s in Moreno Valley. That’s just what we do out here. Some niggas really do it and some niggas really don’t. Growing up, we didn’t really have no choice. When somebody has a choice and they choose otherwise, that always bothered me because niggas lost sleep, niggas lost friends over this. My friends started dying when I was in eighth grade. I never got to pretend.
Last month, President Obama announced this initiative titled ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ to invest $200 million over the next five years into early education, parenting help and discipline reform. Basically trying to even out the scales for young men of color. As a young man of color, what do you think about that?
I feel like it’s a good thing and I appreciate it, but me personally, I know we’ll never see that money. You gotta understand, my momma always had a job so we were never dirt broke but we was barely living. That money don’t come to us, that money goes to the projects and places where the people either don’t care or it’s not enough to help regardless. That don’t go to the people it could help. Behavior reform just means they’re gonna build more prisons. They still build new prisons everyday. I got a homie that is in a brand-new prison. The nigga be hitting me like, ‘We got fingerprint cells.’ They got brand-new prisons, that’s free labor, that’s manual labor. There’s niggas in there that’s fighting fire and if they die, they body just lay there. They got niggas making cell phones and sneakers. That’s slavery. That’s really what it’s going to end up being because they ain’t helping nobody get to school. They ain’t giving nobody no fresh new clothes so they ain’t gotta fight because they’re getting made fun of. They ain’t givin everybody the same lunch, which is the easiest shit to do, but we still gotta pay for lunch and you still gotta wait in the reduced lunch line and niggas gonna still make fun of you so you’re gonna have to whoop somebody ass. You still gonna have to walk through another nigga neighborhood because they don’t give us school buses no more. You still gotta scrape up bus money. Black people been in the hood forever but we don’t own the hood no more. Hood just means neighborhood, it ain’t never meant nothing bad. It’s just bad for the people that ain’t from there. I lived in the same place for most of my life without no problems until I became grown. Niggas ain’t hunting kids’ heads, niggas ain’t really on no kids. The kids have a fair chance growing up. It ain’t the community that’s wrong, it’s the shit that’s not of the community. They’ve been pushing reform in schools since I was in elementary school. They’ve been trying to save the youth programs in schools since I was in elementary school and I’ve never seen a music class. We barely had computers. Niggas is still running off Windows 98 in these schools. I’m only 20 years old, I stopped going to school when I was 16. I was like, ‘What’s the point? We’re not learning nothing, we ain’t got shit. I’m bout to try to make me some money. I got my paperwork and all that.’ I wasn’t no dumb nigga. I just didn’t want to go school because I knew it wouldn’t bring me nothing. I got homies that graduated high school with straight A’s with worse records than me. Valedictorians with tats on they faces.
I remember a few months back on your Twitter bio—and please correct me if I’m wrong—you had a link to a petition to reform sentencing for young men that committed crimes when they were juveniles.
It’s called SB 260 and it just passed, actually. I know a lot of people that got better sentencing because of that. It grants automatic appeals to children who were charged as adults. What they do out here is … say you’re 13, somebody tries to hurt your momma and you go back and kill them. Somebody rapes your mother and you go back and kill them. Depending on what they think they can get out of you in the prison system, you’ll be going back and forth to court for years until you turn 18. Then you’ll get life, or you’ll get something like 30 to life. My little brother caught a case when he was 15 and they waited until he turned 18 and gave him 15 years. One of my homies accidentally killed a girl at a football game, who was a friend of ours, and they waited until he turned 18 and gave him 155 years. He got an appeal, they gave him 153. Now that the law passed, the maximum time he can do is 25, no matter what. He was 16 at the time and it was an accident. They don’t understand loss. One thing the system will never understand is loss.
Talk to me about that. What is it about loss that the system is not designed to understand?
If somebody whoops your ass, beats you within an inch of your life and you go to the car and get a gun, you’re in the wrong because you have an opportunity to leave. I heard that in one of my friend’s court cases today. If you’re a 17-year-old boy who got the shit beat out of you by a bunch of grown-ass men, you get in the car and they follow you, you shoot one of them, it’s your fault. It’s your fault. Somebody shooting at your house, you shoot one of them and kill them, it’s your fault. No matter if they pulled a gun out on you first. They don’t have self-defense laws in Long Beach. The system don’t understand. It’s not rehabilitation. It’s not about circumstance—it’s about who gets caught. That’s why we have the snitching epidemic. It’s a race to get caught last. Whoever get caught first is telling. If you get caught last, you get the most time.
Do you remember a time in the hood when snitching wasn’t as acceptable?
My grandmother taught me niggas have been snitching since the beginning of time. My grandma said, ‘A nigga snitched on Jesus, so watch out.’ It’s just not a big deal no more. Granted we shouldn’t be doing this shit anyways, but you can’t just be like, ‘I don’t wanna play no more.’ It ain’t how it works, it’s forever. That’s how the city is built. They built the city out of gang parameters.
Can you explain that?
South Central was a term that was created by the police. Housing projects is a term that was created by the police. The parks being a gang thing was something that was created by the police. Last time I checked, everyone goes to the parks, no matter if they’re gang banging or not. The gangs’ logos is the football teams in the area. The high school got the gang colors. The whole city is set up around it. L.A. is set up around it, Compton is set up around it. Whether niggas notice it or not, that’s just what it is. It goes back to Bunchy Carter and the Slausons and the Gladiators and all these black programs in these hoods that were fighting off the racist white gangs. Don’t even get me started on the Mexicans, the Mexicans gotta fend for theyself in their community. That’s why you can be in L.A. and see nothing but shit in Spanish for blocks and motherfuckers look at it like it’s the wrong way to be. That’s exactly how it should be. That’s how everybody should be. In order to keep that you need these gangs because that’s our police, that’s our law. I remember my parents once told me that niggas was just making sure that nobody that wasn’t from the neighborhood came to the neighborhood, that’s what it was. They got us to believe that we each other enemy. Granted, after a couple of niggas died, it didn’t matter what’s what. You’re not fighting over colors no more, you’re fighting over who killed who and who killed where. It’s not even no Crips and Bloods shit no more. We got a problem with these niggas over here, we don’t got a problem with these niggas over here—that’s just what it is. It becomes more of a personal thing. I remember when niggas was killing niggas just because they didn’t know them. If motherfuckers stopped bombing countries they would take that as a win. If motherfuckers was killing specific people, that’s where we at with it. It’s never no reason for nobody to kill another man, if you wanna be real. Except for eye for an eye. If a nigga killing somebody, they’re gonna kill them. That’s the only logical explanation. It’s never going to be explainable, it’s never going to make no sense. You never know why you shit in the toilet. You just know you were told to shit in that toilet, and we’re shitting in our own toilets. Put it like this, when somebody get out of the hood it’s a big deal. It’s built to not get out. You got grocery stores. You got places to get your clothes. You got a mall that’s not that far and you got the school you go to and you got a community college. Doing good in the hood is going to the community college and getting a little degree and getting a job doing cable or something and you just buy a house in the nice block. It’s not a lot of stories of people that moved out and went to Paris. That shit’s normal in other neighborhoods. Motherfuckers study abroad all the time. They try to make the hood self-sustainable in the way that you can’t get too much money but if you do okay you can live down the street and be okay. I got a homegirl who momma got a daycare. They good, they got money and they’re doing straight for what they got. They still live in the hood though, but they just live on the nice street. In their mind they escaped and in a sense they did. They try to keep you in the motherfucker. You got a nice part of the hood and you got a bad part of the hood. You move from the bad part to the nice part and you successful, that’s how they look at it. It’s hard to get out. The best way to get out is education and the schools in our communities ain’t that good unless you’re really going out of your way. Luckily you got the internet now, but before the internet motherfuckers were doing what they had to do. They gotta raise the industry jobs, the industry jobs are gone now. Motherfuckers say gang banging is dead, it’s not. It’s not, it’s just in a different way. We got gang injunctions and things where motherfuckers can’t hang out so people are more trapped today. They’re not going to school, they’re not learning in school. The only way I could see people getting out is if they get a chance to actually leave the hood and see other shit. In order to leave the hood you gotta get out first. How are you going to get out of something when you never get a chance to leave? That’s like asking how can an animal get out of the zoo? They’re in the zoo, nigga. They’ve been in that box, that box is they life. If they could get out they would but they can’t. Of course there’s ways to get out, but that’s difficult.
Do you see that kind of cycle as traumatic?
I mean, it’s not traumatic to nobody that ain’t there. They don’t see it. Motherfuckers hit me up, tell me my music is trap music, it’s real gangster shit. What are you talking about me, nigga? You’ve never been there. You can’t tell me what it is. I don’t think I make that kind of music. I think my music just comes from that state of mind and what happens to be my surroundings. It’s a difficult concept to grasp. Niggas mimic. Niggas is from Texas saying they’re from Rollin’ 60s, you know what I mean? You got Boys in Blue and all these other movies where niggas pretend that everybody dies. Movies like Set It Off, everybody dies.
You have a line on the outro of that Stolen Youth tape where you say you’re taking it ‘back, way back, back when people used to learn from rap.’ What did you mean?
Motherfuckers is lying in their song. Everybody has cocaine, everybody is the man, everybody is this and everybody is that. When I tell niggas in these songs, ‘Don’t go by Ramona Park, somebody will kill you,’ I’m letting you know you can’t go into Ramona Park because you will die. I want motherfuckers to know the police is really killing people for no reason. I want people to learn about my surroundings. I want people to know what my parents had to go through. I want people to learn my story. You’re not learning anything about nobody anymore because everybody is lying. That’s really what I want people to know. My music is actual and I don’t mean it like look how turned up we are, look what we do in the hood, this our reputation, we crazy. It’s not that. It’s … ‘My nigga, it ain’t funny.’ It’s gotten to a point where this shit is a joke now. Our communities are jokes. Our music is a joke. I tweeted the other day, my purpose in music is to make people feel uncomfortable. I don’t feel like people should listen to my music like, ‘This shit is crazy! This shit is tight!’ I want people to listen to my music and be like, ‘Damn, that’s fucked up.’ My little square cousins, you know how you got that family that didn’t have to deal with none of that, they lived the next city over? They listen to my music like, ‘Damn! we never knew none of this was happening. You did all this? I never knew, I just knew my mom said you were crazy and I couldn’t hang out with you.’ That type of shit. My music shouldn’t be depicted as cool—motherfuckers should be like, ‘What the fuck?’ There was a point in time when people were saying to me, ‘Oh, are you racist? Do you not like white people?’ I got white homies from my neighborhood and they feel the same way that I do. That the police is racist. They get treated like niggas too. I’ve had the police roll up on the homie and tell him he’s a nigga too. This is a black neighborhood, you over here, you’re one of them. People don’t really understand those dynamics of life. I want people to understand my life and what it is we’ve had to go through.
Were you concerned that by going to a major like Def Jam, that nuance you have in your music could be put at risk?
Never. I didn’t care. I was already at the point like … I’m saying literally shit that could get me killed. There’s no more fear after that. What’s more fearful than losing your life? I used to be worried about taking care of my momma. My momma used to tell me, ‘I’ve been taking care of you for your whole life—when are you gonna take care of me?’ I never get scared of no label. Why I’m gonna be scared of somebody giving me money? Nobody ever gave me nothing.
I meant in the sense of being pressured to do something that compromises your voice—something flat, that doesn’t have as much nuance and is more on that bullshit glorifying tip.
They would never ask that of me because when you need me, I’m not that dude. I’m not in that bubble. These labels know who is lying and who is not. They know what to ask of who. That’s just not my lane. I’m a regular dude, I be wearing regular-ass clothes. I’m a quiet nigga. I’m not no loud person. I’m an observer. Even if they did try to make me do that, the label would know it wouldn’t work. I don’t think I would ever be asked that. I’ve never really thought about it like that.
You’ve talked a lot about what growing up in Ramona Park was for you. Where was the love for you growing up? I hear a certain kind of affection in your music too.
My parents. My people. We grew up together. That’s all I ever really had in my whole life. The only thing I ever had in my life was the people around me. I never lied to my parents about nothing. ‘Where you come from?’ ‘Man, we just had to do this and do that.’ ‘OK, don’t do that.’ My parents did the same shit, so my parents understood. My momma always understood I wasn’t no bad kid. I just had to do what I had to do. My momma had to do what she had to do. My momma used to have to fight on her way home from school. My love was in my family. I only always had my family. Even my homies is my family. Most of my homies is niggas that I grew up with and people they brought around. I’ve had the same friends. I haven’t had a new friend come into my life since I was in seventh or eighth grade. Love was always there. It wasn’t like my parents hated me. Me and my momma used to get into it all the time because when I was younger I was grown. When I was like 15 or 16 years old you couldn’t tell me shit. ‘Come home.’ ‘Naw, I’m busy.’ What could she tell me? We didn’t have no money so I was paying for everything I had. I was buying my own clothes, my own phone, my own everything, up until I decided to stop getting in trouble and I had to go back to my mother, which was the funniest shit. That’s how it was. My family has always been there for me. I got into it with my family the most. You get into it the most with motherfuckers that care the most. It was always love in my family, we all we ever had. My family is real close. My grandfather’s neighborhood is my whole family, we all related. As far as my people, I’ve been knowing them my whole life. They’re basically my family. They parents is my parents. I got keys to my homies’ houses. ‘Hey, go watch my kids real quick, Imma be off work later.’ That’s the type of relationship I have with my people. I’ll always have love in my life.
Was there ever any kind of talk that happened within your family when your music started to get very personal and really transparent?
Never. The only kind of talk I’ve ever gotten is, ‘That ain’t what happened. You was in the eighth grade when that happened.’ Little shit like that. My momma will say, ‘Naw, that’s not what happened. Your daddy didn’t have no Caprice, he had this.’ That type of shit. Fact checking, nothing else. My family really loves my music. Because it’s so close to home it makes them be like, ‘Damn, that’s crazy. I remember that and I never knew you looked at it like that.’ That’s what my momma said when she saw ‘Nate.’ She said, ‘I never knew you looked at it like that.’
You mention something similar in the last line of the last verse of ‘Nate’: ‘I never knew if they noticed that I noticed it.’
Yeah, they was busy being themselves, being in love, two motherfuckers that’s unstable. We was always straight. My parents took good care of us. I never wanted for nothing. If I needed something it might have took a minute but I got it after a couple of weeks or so. My momma pawned her shit to buy me football equipment. That’s what it was.
You’ve been vocal that you’re sober. You don’t smoke or drink. Coming from a place where a lot of people use those things as recreation or as a way to medicate and cope, why do you choose to be sober?
I just never been a follower. I always felt like I don’t need nothing to make me feel better about myself. I used to beat niggas up for no reason and shit like that but that was some bullshit I got over.
What do you have against Team Jordans?
Team Jordans are ugly, bro, and they cost the same amount of money as regular Jordans. There is no reason to throw them on your feet. They cost the same as your regular Jordans and niggas is still rocking Team Jordans. They just fake versions of the other ones. If you can’t get no real Jordans, my nigga, cop the Nikes—they just as fly!
2024—where do you see Vince Staples?
Hopefully grown and past all this shit. I want to be that motherfucker that helps somebody. If not, I’m doing this for no reason because I don’t like niggas looking at me all day, asking me a buncha questions. Not you, but I don’t like motherfuckers on Twitter, ‘Hey, when are you doing this? When are you doing that?’ I don’t like that type of attention. I’m doing this to help other people. 2024, I wanna be somebody that can help people. I don’t want motherfuckers having to deal with what I had to deal with growing up. That’s not the right way to grow up as a child. Basically that’s it, that’s all. I don’t care about nothing else.