Published Jul 02, 2015At just 21 years old, Def Jam signee Vince Staples has a past riddled with tribulations, but also filled with triumphs. Following a string of successful mixtapes, the Long Beach, CA artist has finally released his debut album, Summertime '06, marking another victory in his career.
He's taking on a double-disc, an often risky proposition by even seasoned vets, but Staples is confident. "Why will we cheat the people of music that they're probably going to enjoy? Just make something for them to have and spend time with," he tells Exclaim! "This album is not meant for the first week, it's not meant for the first month — it's made to stand the test of time."
After being nominated for the XXL Freshman Class in 2014, Staples graces XXL's Freshman Class cover one year later, but it hasn't fazed him.
"I knew two days after the last magazine came out," he says. "It's cool man, I appreciate everything I have. You know, another person's opinion should not alter or stop or push forward what you do, but it should give you reassurance, and this just reassures that you're on the right path."
In 2006, 13-year-old Vince Staples had already seen his father fall victim to drugs, and the repercussions of his mom being part of gang culture.
"I'm from the first generation whose parents were active gang members, as far as what you saw on the news about the riots in the '80s and '90s," he says. "It was a misuse of leadership and they didn't know what to do. I know what it's like to have nothing, and I know what it's like to want something and not be able to get it. I know what it's like to stand in the county line and I know what it's like to be at WIC [the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children] and getting fucking Cheerios."
It's because of those experiences that Staples is critical of media outlets for glorifying drug culture. "It's out of line, no matter how you put it, to put an adult man that a child might look up to eventually and have them make crack on a fucking television. That's not okay."
With No I.D. serving as executive producer and providing the bulk of production on Summertime '06, sociopolitical themes naturally emerge on the album, but Staples shows no greater conflict than "Might Be Wrong," which explores rising murder rates.
"I don't know what to blame: Is it stereotypes? Is it perception? Is it race? Is it humanity? The problem that I have with all those things is that it's not 'this person just killed another person.' It's 'this white cop killed a black man, this black man killed a black man, this Mexican man killed a black man, this Spanish man killed a black man, this black man killed a Spanish man.' Why does that matter if people are dying? Why aren't people just hurting people? What does wrong really mean? It's all based on the window you're looking out of."
The window Vince Staples is looking out of reflects a vision of humanity that is connected through shared experiences, like listening to albums like Summertime '06.
"I would hate to walk down the street and feel like I'm better than the next person. If my music relates to you in your life, it belongs to you, period. If you've helped me pull this music off, it belongs to you because we're all inspired by life."