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Photography by Zamar Velez

Words by Aron A.

Cover by Fart.PDF

At a time when industry accolades are easier than ever to achieve, it seems like there is little professional satisfaction to a #1 single or album for Vince Staples. The Billboard charts interpret numbers – not art. There’s a rather organic, and perhaps, holistic process behind each project by Vince Staples. It isn’t necessarily divined to shoot to the top of the charts but rather, to map out his identity on wax through innovating his craft. The experiences that directly inform his music. The different sonic palettes that speak to those experiences.

“Music is music. You just feel something and you try to create it,” Vince says. “There’s no right or wrong way to create. Just create things in the way that you feel comfortable but also try to push yourself and challenge yourself within your workflow… Just try to throw shit at the wall and see what happens."

Over the course of a half-hour, I learn that Vince is a man of few words, and that’s especially the case when it comes to defining the creative process, influences, or anything that can unveil what might seem to be the mysticism of his craft. It’s an interesting dichotomy, really, because the entire brand of Vince Staples isn’t formed by the typical assets of an artist of his nature – uber-machoism, flamboyant fashion sense, or some grandiose enigma. Vince Staples is like the rest of us, trying to navigate this thing called life and reap each lesson on the way. “The important part of life is learning,” says Vince. “This is a journey so just trying to put as much into the journey as we possibly can.”

The 28-year-old rapper has spent the bulk of his adult life archiving his experiences in Long Beach. Beginning with the release of 2011’s Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, the 11-year arc of Vince’s career has produced five critically-acclaimed boundary-pushing LPs, four mixtapes, and two EPs heralded as underground classics. The release of Summertime 06 captured a formative time in his life through a double-disc effort largely produced by No I.D. At 22-years-old, Vince recounted a pivotal coming-of-age summer through warped soundscapes and incandescent storytelling. He documented the modern-day underbelly of Long Beach, California, beyond the coastal waters and scenic bike paths.

“There’s no right or wrong way to create. Just create things in the way that you feel comfortable but also try to push yourself and challenge yourself within your workflow.”

What came after the release of his debut album pushed the sonic boundaries we were familiar with through left-field artistic choices that he precisely executed. “I’m always trying to make something new. Being inspired by life and the things that are currently happening and being aware. Self-aware,” he says over a Zoom call. “Kind of knowing where you are and knowing what you want to say. How your beliefs change over time, and things of that nature,” he continues.

Each Vince album bears little similarities to the last, each sonic objective markedly different. That could be the house-driven production on Big Fish Theory that arrived just in time for the 2017 festival season or the plaintive R&B vocal samples on Vince Staples that ooze nostalgia. The commonality between all his projects, from Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1 to Ramona Park Broke My Heart is the cornerstone of the rapper’s identity – Long Beach, CA.

Art imitates life, in the case of Vince Staples. Ramona Park Broke My Heart closes out what Vince described as an “anthology of what I believed to be home,” and oftentimes, people outgrow their homes. That realization comes with years of self-reflection. And, that maturity will undoubtedly impact the outcome of art. “All that stuff affects the music that you create so I think just being self-aware is something that we try to do whenever music is created and that kind of help differentiate it because if you know where you are currently in life, it’ll help the music,” he adds.

While most of Vince’s projects have been succinct since his major-label debut, Ramona Park Broke My Heart bridges 16-songs together that weave together untold tales of his hometown, the legacies of those who aren’t with us today, and the history of California from Vince’s perspective. Mustard’s production on “Magic” and “Bang That” bring the refreshing bounce that defined California radio since 2010. That sentiment extends to Ty Dolla $ign who Vince says “understands the importance of just being innovative with how you approach records.” Ty’s minimal touch at the end of “Lemonade” emboldens the feeling of summertime in LBC. On “DJ Quik,” a sample of “Dollaz + Sense” is scratched underneath Vince’s vocals, thanks to the Compton luminary. “I played it for Quik and then he DJ’d, kind of blended and scratched the record into the song. That was 100% Quik’s doing,” Vince recalls. “If anybody from out here asks Quik to do anything, he would most likely do it. He’s a really good dude. He’s a wealth of knowledge.” He adds, “It’s just great to be around people who have done that much and pick up whatever you can from them.”

It’s easy, especially for non-Californians, to describe Ramona Park Broke My Heart as an embodiment of West Coast hip-hop, simply based on the reference points to Mustard, Quik, and Suga Free. Yet, Vince explains that the archetypal sounds associated with California aren’t an all-encompassing representation of what the state has produced. And to suggest otherwise is subjective.

“I played it for Quik and then he DJ’d, kind of blended and scratched the record into the song. That was 100% Quik’s doing.”

“There’s every kind of music that’s been made in California. From the Bay to Los Angeles to San Diego. You know, from Mitchy Slick to Xzibit, The Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, E-40, Too Short, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, M.C., all these – DJ Quik,” Vince says. “I think it all just depends on perspective and point of view. But, I think that’s the beautiful thing about music 'cause we all have a certain thing that we associate location with. That we associate certain parts of the world with, certain people, certain cultures.”

The aforementioned artists are just instinctually familiar for a nearly 30-year-old man growing up in Long Beach. There isn’t a deep artistic intention or a heavily thought-out motif behind these decisions.

“I just know I’m from California so just making music, you gon’ naturally get some of that stuff,” he adds. “I think it just comes from being self-aware. Making music for yourself that reflects who you are.”

A month before the release of Vince’s self-titled LP, Saniyka Shakur a.k.a Monster Kody, born Kody Dejohn Scott, was found dead at 57. Shakur was a prominent member of the Eight Trey Crips after joining in the mid-70s. After leaving the Crips, he joined the Republic of New Afrika and became a motivational speaker and a best-selling author with his 1993 memoir, Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member. Shakur’s voice echoes on “The Spirit of Monster Kody,” while an excerpt of an audio clip from Shakur’s mother appears on “Mama’s Boy.” Saint Mino and Tommy Parker’s ominous static-induced synths lay beneath Shakur’s fiery delivery as he explains how he defied the odds of being a notorious gang member to become a motivational speaker who penned a best-seller from behind bars.

“It was important to touch on everyone’s [legacy]. A lot of people who were used on that project are no longer with us and their stories resonate to this day,” says Vince of Shakur. “It was important for people to see that, you know, the things we talk about today in music, whether it’s me or a Buddy or Kendrick or Q, Boogie, Roddy – any of these people. These are stories that were being told in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and we’re still kind of in the same situation. I think it was important to show that timeline and [Saniyka Shakur]’s somebody that was very, very, very eloquent with explaining what’s been going on out here for as long as it’s been going on. It just made sense.”

Shakur’s transformative stint in jail helped him turn a new leaf but for Vince, the growth and perspective he acquired are a product of leaving his stomping grounds for extended periods of time. His music is a reflection of his evolving relationship with Long Beach since his formative years. “Like I said, my music is more so just about point of view. Rethinking my own personal experiences. A lot of it is reminiscing, I guess. It’s kind of thinking about things of the past. This is kind of more current than a lot of things have ever been,” he explains of Ramona Park. “Besides, music only gave me money and the ability to see the world.”

“whether it’s me or a Buddy or Kendrick or Q, Boogie, Roddy – any of these people. These are stories that were being told in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and we’re still kind of in the same situation.”

These days, there’s a brighter outlook on his interactions with his community in contrast to his teenage years. “It’s great. Better than ever,” he says of his relationship with his city present-day. “I have resources to help the people that need help. I have a better mind state than I did when I was younger so I’m able to help the people around me instead of just hurting them and doing the wrong things.”

Nonetheless, Vince doesn’t consider his rap career a driving factor in what nurtured a healthier relationship with the city that raised him. Instead, he reflects inwards. “Music hasn’t really helped me at all when it comes to dealing with my neighborhood,” he explains. “I think that’s just personal growth that you get from the state of mind and the comfort of having stability and I was able to kind of afford myself the time to think and grow. And taking that kind of mind state back home and just making sure that when I speak to people, that I’m speaking from a mature, positive, optimistic standpoint ‘cause people really need to hear that.”

0/1000CLOSE
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Photography by Zamar Velez

Words by Aron A.

Cover by Fart.PDF

At a time when industry accolades are easier than ever to achieve, it seems like there is little professional satisfaction to a #1 single or album for Vince Staples. The Billboard charts interpret numbers – not art. There’s a rather organic, and perhaps, holistic process behind each project by Vince Staples. It isn’t necessarily divined to shoot to the top of the charts but rather, to map out his identity on wax through innovating his craft. The experiences that directly inform his music. The different sonic palettes that speak to those experiences.

“Music is music. You just feel something and you try to create it,” Vince says. “There’s no right or wrong way to create. Just create things in the way that you feel comfortable but also try to push yourself and challenge yourself within your workflow… Just try to throw shit at the wall and see what happens."

Over the course of a half-hour, I learn that Vince is a man of few words, and that’s especially the case when it comes to defining the creative process, influences, or anything that can unveil what might seem to be the mysticism of his craft. It’s an interesting dichotomy, really, because the entire brand of Vince Staples isn’t formed by the typical assets of an artist of his nature – uber-machoism, flamboyant fashion sense, or some grandiose enigma. Vince Staples is like the rest of us, trying to navigate this thing called life and reap each lesson on the way. “The important part of life is learning,” says Vince. “This is a journey so just trying to put as much into the journey as we possibly can.”

The 28-year-old rapper has spent the bulk of his adult life archiving his experiences in Long Beach. Beginning with the release of 2011’s Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, the 11-year arc of Vince’s career has produced five critically-acclaimed boundary-pushing LPs, four mixtapes, and two EPs heralded as underground classics. The release of Summertime 06 captured a formative time in his life through a double-disc effort largely produced by No I.D. At 22-years-old, Vince recounted a pivotal coming-of-age summer through warped soundscapes and incandescent storytelling. He documented the modern-day underbelly of Long Beach, California, beyond the coastal waters and scenic bike paths.

“There’s no right or wrong way to create. Just create things in the way that you feel comfortable but also try to push yourself and challenge yourself within your workflow.”

What came after the release of his debut album pushed the sonic boundaries we were familiar with through left-field artistic choices that he precisely executed. “I’m always trying to make something new. Being inspired by life and the things that are currently happening and being aware. Self-aware,” he says over a Zoom call. “Kind of knowing where you are and knowing what you want to say. How your beliefs change over time, and things of that nature,” he continues.

Each Vince album bears little similarities to the last, each sonic objective markedly different. That could be the house-driven production on Big Fish Theory that arrived just in time for the 2017 festival season or the plaintive R&B vocal samples on Vince Staples that ooze nostalgia. The commonality between all his projects, from Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1 to Ramona Park Broke My Heart is the cornerstone of the rapper’s identity – Long Beach, CA.

Art imitates life, in the case of Vince Staples. Ramona Park Broke My Heart closes out what Vince described as an “anthology of what I believed to be home,” and oftentimes, people outgrow their homes. That realization comes with years of self-reflection. And, that maturity will undoubtedly impact the outcome of art. “All that stuff affects the music that you create so I think just being self-aware is something that we try to do whenever music is created and that kind of help differentiate it because if you know where you are currently in life, it’ll help the music,” he adds.

While most of Vince’s projects have been succinct since his major-label debut, Ramona Park Broke My Heart bridges 16-songs together that weave together untold tales of his hometown, the legacies of those who aren’t with us today, and the history of California from Vince’s perspective. Mustard’s production on “Magic” and “Bang That” bring the refreshing bounce that defined California radio since 2010. That sentiment extends to Ty Dolla $ign who Vince says “understands the importance of just being innovative with how you approach records.” Ty’s minimal touch at the end of “Lemonade” emboldens the feeling of summertime in LBC. On “DJ Quik,” a sample of “Dollaz + Sense” is scratched underneath Vince’s vocals, thanks to the Compton luminary. “I played it for Quik and then he DJ’d, kind of blended and scratched the record into the song. That was 100% Quik’s doing,” Vince recalls. “If anybody from out here asks Quik to do anything, he would most likely do it. He’s a really good dude. He’s a wealth of knowledge.” He adds, “It’s just great to be around people who have done that much and pick up whatever you can from them.”

It’s easy, especially for non-Californians, to describe Ramona Park Broke My Heart as an embodiment of West Coast hip-hop, simply based on the reference points to Mustard, Quik, and Suga Free. Yet, Vince explains that the archetypal sounds associated with California aren’t an all-encompassing representation of what the state has produced. And to suggest otherwise is subjective.

“I played it for Quik and then he DJ’d, kind of blended and scratched the record into the song. That was 100% Quik’s doing.”

“There’s every kind of music that’s been made in California. From the Bay to Los Angeles to San Diego. You know, from Mitchy Slick to Xzibit, The Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, E-40, Too Short, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, M.C., all these – DJ Quik,” Vince says. “I think it all just depends on perspective and point of view. But, I think that’s the beautiful thing about music 'cause we all have a certain thing that we associate location with. That we associate certain parts of the world with, certain people, certain cultures.”

The aforementioned artists are just instinctually familiar for a nearly 30-year-old man growing up in Long Beach. There isn’t a deep artistic intention or a heavily thought-out motif behind these decisions.

“I just know I’m from California so just making music, you gon’ naturally get some of that stuff,” he adds. “I think it just comes from being self-aware. Making music for yourself that reflects who you are.”

A month before the release of Vince’s self-titled LP, Saniyka Shakur a.k.a Monster Kody, born Kody Dejohn Scott, was found dead at 57. Shakur was a prominent member of the Eight Trey Crips after joining in the mid-70s. After leaving the Crips, he joined the Republic of New Afrika and became a motivational speaker and a best-selling author with his 1993 memoir, Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member. Shakur’s voice echoes on “The Spirit of Monster Kody,” while an excerpt of an audio clip from Shakur’s mother appears on “Mama’s Boy.” Saint Mino and Tommy Parker’s ominous static-induced synths lay beneath Shakur’s fiery delivery as he explains how he defied the odds of being a notorious gang member to become a motivational speaker who penned a best-seller from behind bars.

“It was important to touch on everyone’s [legacy]. A lot of people who were used on that project are no longer with us and their stories resonate to this day,” says Vince of Shakur. “It was important for people to see that, you know, the things we talk about today in music, whether it’s me or a Buddy or Kendrick or Q, Boogie, Roddy – any of these people. These are stories that were being told in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and we’re still kind of in the same situation. I think it was important to show that timeline and [Saniyka Shakur]’s somebody that was very, very, very eloquent with explaining what’s been going on out here for as long as it’s been going on. It just made sense.”

Shakur’s transformative stint in jail helped him turn a new leaf but for Vince, the growth and perspective he acquired are a product of leaving his stomping grounds for extended periods of time. His music is a reflection of his evolving relationship with Long Beach since his formative years. “Like I said, my music is more so just about point of view. Rethinking my own personal experiences. A lot of it is reminiscing, I guess. It’s kind of thinking about things of the past. This is kind of more current than a lot of things have ever been,” he explains of Ramona Park. “Besides, music only gave me money and the ability to see the world.”

“whether it’s me or a Buddy or Kendrick or Q, Boogie, Roddy – any of these people. These are stories that were being told in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and we’re still kind of in the same situation.”

These days, there’s a brighter outlook on his interactions with his community in contrast to his teenage years. “It’s great. Better than ever,” he says of his relationship with his city present-day. “I have resources to help the people that need help. I have a better mind state than I did when I was younger so I’m able to help the people around me instead of just hurting them and doing the wrong things.”

Nonetheless, Vince doesn’t consider his rap career a driving factor in what nurtured a healthier relationship with the city that raised him. Instead, he reflects inwards. “Music hasn’t really helped me at all when it comes to dealing with my neighborhood,” he explains. “I think that’s just personal growth that you get from the state of mind and the comfort of having stability and I was able to kind of afford myself the time to think and grow. And taking that kind of mind state back home and just making sure that when I speak to people, that I’m speaking from a mature, positive, optimistic standpoint ‘cause people really need to hear that.”

0/1000CLOSE
Made_to_Post
Made_to_Post
Apr 20, 2022

I mess with Vince heavy! Great article