Vince Staples Justifiably Annoyed by Gangbanging Question in NPR Interview

"You can't find a Jay Z article where they don't speak about him selling drugs."
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Vince Staples might be the funniest rapper alive, but that doesn't mean he can't flip the switch when the moment calls for seriousness.

In a new interview with NPR, Staples was asked by host Michel Martin to describe gangbanging, a topic that Staples recently vowed to separate himself from after addressing it ad nauseam for the past five years.

"I don't really feel the need to describe it, for the simple fact that you can go see and ask someone that is there. This is my thing: We gotta stop pretending that we care about people, and what they do, if we don't. That's an honest thing — 'cause what it is, is a sense of camaraderie, sense of brotherhood, sense of belonging. The same way if you live in this country, you're American; if you live in another country you can be whatever they call it there. You're a Democrat or you're a Republican. You're this or you're that. You're black or you're white. We all belong to different sects and different — different spaces within something that exists above us." - Vince Staples

Given the subject material of his past work, as well as the stunning visuals that have accompanied his singles, Staples knows that questions about his past life as a gang member are bound to come up in interviews, and like any major label artist who is in the midst of a press run leading up to the release of a new album, he knows the same questions are bound to be asked over and over again.

Unfortunately, just because the Long Beach native expects to hear the same line of questioning about his gangbanging past to come up in every interview doesn't mean it isn't bothersome.

"I feel like it's kind of annoying to hear those things," said Staples. "Because you can't find a Jay Z article where they don't speak about him selling drugs. You can't find a Vince Staples article where it doesn't say, 'Ex-gang member, rapper from yada yada yada, Vince Staples says this, this, that and that.' Because we live in a space where your name isn't enough."

In some instances, separating art from the artist is not an easy task, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a living, breathing human who's comfortable being solely identified by one life decision, especially when that choice might have been made during their childhood under dire circumstances.

Vince Staples was a gang member, but he's currently a philanthropist, a savvy businessman and a prominent voice in the straight-edge revolution. While it's fair game to question an artist about the impact that life events have played in the creation of new music, it's important that we don't use these events to lazily define and label an artist.

Photo Credit: Instagram

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