Following the success of his debut album Summertime ‘06, Vince Staples has used his time in the spotlight to project a much-needed balance into the hip-hop conversation.
The Long Beach native, fresh off the release of his new Prima Donna EP, is no stranger to controversial statements, however, more often than not he offers a well-articulated explanation for some of his more incendiary musings.
If you’ve watched or read a handful of his interviews, you’re familiar with Vince being unapologetically new school. His musical influences more often than not hail from an era of hip-hop that sharply contrasts that of the average emcee’s Golden Era favorites. In a recent interview with Ebro and Laura Stylez of Hot 97, Staples reflects on 50 Cent being the first rapper that he actually discovered on his own and connected with, citing “In Da Club” as both a revelation and a motivator for some of his more violent desires.
Though a grown Vince knows the difference between artistic depictions of street life and reality, he believes Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ played a role in the already-overwhelming pressure to engage in violence and gang activity.
...Then you got music that's making you feel like, “Oh, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’? Oh, well he rich, how he do it? Listen to the music. Oh so it's ok...
Vince balances the above quote by later explaining how he now realizes that wasn’t 50’s intention, but as an impressionable youth, there’s no denying the role of that street-centric music can play on questionable life decisions.
This moment of clarity is another example of what sets Vince apart, and it’s a clarity that hopefully more and more artists achieve as time goes on. Hip-hop is at its most powerful when it provides an unflinching, honest representation of the artist’s environment, but there’s a thin line between telling your story and glorifying it, and so far Vince has gracefully walked that line with a wisdom beyond his years.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: YouTube