Images: Ben Thomson
The first thing Vince Staples and I talk about is pandas. He thinks they all wanna die. It’s true that zookeepers often have to force them to procreate. Vince cites that—and the fact they just look so sad—as evidence they hate being alive. They’re his favourite animal.
Vince Staples is a pretty nihilistic guy, but he’s not depressing to be around. The Californian hip hop MC's outlook is kinda like ‘nothing matters inherently, so you get to decide what’s meaningful to you.’ He also has the driest sense of humour of anyone I’ve ever met, and part of the joke is that he’s never really kidding at all.
He arrives to our date with a guy in fresh Air Max 95’s called Cody—his manager—and Jules, a woman from his label. I came with a photographer, so with five people at our table, the mood isn’t quite right. But I try to get past it, and into Vince’s heart. Or whatever’s in there.
Noisey: Have you ever been on a date?
Vince Staples: Never. It’s kinda unnecessary. I don’t drink, so I don’t know where I would go. I mean, I’ve been places with girls, but it’s not like in the movies where you’re like ‘meet me here for dinner and movie.’ Plus I was poor for like 20 years, so I wasn’t trying to pay for a date. I’ve been to the movies, amusement parks, nice little dinners.
Those are all dates.
That’s not a date. A dates when you’re trying to impress. A date, you’ve gotta put on a suit.
I’ve never been on a date with someone wearing a suit.
Then you’ve never been on a date. If I’d known this was a date I would’ve worn a suit. I’m staying down the road from the Topman. I could’ve gotten a little $80 fake Gucci suit.
Thanks. This is still a date though. Are you into movies? I’m into nature docos lately.
I can’t watch them. Them shits are sad. You know Blackfish? I saw like ten minutes and I couldn’t do it.
I cried during that film.
I almost cried during the Amy Winehouse one, then I just got mad. That dude, Blake [Fielder Civil] is a dickhead. We should whoop his ass if we see him. We gon fuck him up.
How many girlfriends have you had? I wanna know what I’m up against.
Eight, but only three were real, like more than a week. So not a lot. I don’t get out much.
Where do you live right now?
Orange County, ten minutes away from Long Beach. I might move to the outskirts of L.A. I don’t like the city that much, it’s not my kind of environment. Bunch of weird-ass people. Too many homeless people, that shit’s sad. No kids outside too, and the traffic’s bad. I don’t do drugs and I don’t do alcohols, so I don’t go to parties—I don’t have a nightlife like that. So there’s no reason for me to be in L.A.
Do you travel too much for a relationship now?
I could probably do it. This is how my life works: there’s this one girl I’ve known my whole life, and she picks when she wants to go and come back. When I’m back home, she’ll be like ‘hey.’ And I’m fine with it, because I come across very sarcastic. I’m like this all the time. I’m never like really sad and really happy: that could make somebody really crazy.
People have told me things like I can’t tell when you’re joking—
—you don’t have any feelings. Do you get that one?
Yeah. Or I feel like I don’t really know you.
Oh yeah. See, we’re the same person. I get that shit a lot. There was this girl, who I didn’t know that well, and she hit me up like ‘I miss you.’ I was like ‘No you don’t, you barely know me.’ So she said ‘I just wanna get to know you, know more about how you think, blah blah’ I just looked at her and asked ‘What’s my mom’s name?’ She’s like ‘What does that have to do with anything?’ I’m like, ‘What’s my middle name? What colour is my toothbrush? You can’t possibly care that much about me if you don’t know these simple things.’
People must think you’re cold.
That girl I was telling you about before, she lived across the street from me when we were kids. When we were younger, she was like ‘You know you’re a really bad person, right? You’re not nice and you don’t care about anybody.’ I’m like ‘What the fuck are you telling me for?’ She said ‘Because you try to pretend you’re not. But it’s okay: just be a piece of shit.’ I’m never going to forget that. It’s okay to be a piece of shit. Now, I don’t think a piece of shit, I think she’s an asshole, but it’s important to accept who you are. A lot of people in relationships don’t have enough respect for who their partner is: you’ve gotta accept them too.
I even had this girlfriend cheat on me when I was younger, and my friends would be like ‘why aren’t you mad?’ But you can’t own another person. You don’t have property rights over another person.
I agree with that too. I still reckon people think you’re cold.
Yeah, I recently had this girl tell me—she’s just my friend but sometimes it gets weird, as a woman you appreciate that, having that one dude who always gets weird on you. She just texted me something and I didn’t reply. So she said ‘sometimes you’re nice and sometimes you’re cold, and it’s not because you’re busy: I feel like you’re trying to keep control over the situation.’ I’m like ‘what the fuck are you talking about?’ What if I was asleep? What if I just didn’t look at my phone?
Why didn’t you reply?
I just didn’t look at my phone, at all. Everyone thinks I’m some super deep motherfucker, so they try to over-explain everything. It never ends up being right.
Of course I’m not. I’m just fucking crazy.
How many siblings do you have?
Five and one’s dead. My sister died two years ago.
People die. You get used to it, and you get over it fast. It fucking sucks out here, nobody wants to be here.
I think you like pandas so much because they’re so much like you.
Yeah man. That’s true. But look, I do want kids though, ‘cause kids are fucking funny.
When do you wanna have kids?
Whenever I fuck up.
Is that gonna be soon?
I’m not a whore. Lot of rappers are whores. Lot of men are whores. I’m cool on all that. That shit scares me. Charlie Sheen just got AIDS.
"Safe Sex and Pay Checks"?
Not even that. Rae Sremmurd still fuck random groupies and shit. Number one rule: you don’t fuck the fans.
I want to hear more about what you’d be like as a parent.
I’d be the shit. Kids love me, they really love me. I fuck with kids, I don’t think I’d be a bad parent.
Tell me about your parents.
My parents literally have the most volatile situation I’ve ever seen in my life, they’re fucking crazy. They’re two people who should not be on the streets, they’re lunatics. But I’ve never seen anybody love each other more than they love each other. And they’re horrible people. Like, when I was younger I was afraid of my mom, ‘cause she was yelling all the time and she was tall and used to dress like a dude. I would cry when she would talk to me. But that was her version of love, and I’ve never been afraid of anyone else. Do have have siblings?
Yeah, I have a sister. We’re very different.
That’s the best way. My older sister’s 25, and we’re completely different too. She’s really nice, she doesn’t curse. She’ll tell me ‘Vincent, don’t say those words!’ She’s the first person in my life that ever really had a plan. She was like: ‘I’ll go to this school, and I’m gonna be a nurse, then I’m gonna be a doctor.’ I remember like it was yesterday: we were at my friends house one day when we were younger, and someone said something about a master’s degree. My sister was like ‘What’s that?’ They said ‘You know how people have “doctor” in front of their name? That’s called a doctorate and you have to go to school for that.’ She just said ‘Oh, I’ll get one of those.’ And she did. It took her twenty something years since that day. She’s like the head nurse of some big ass hospital now. Seeing all her hard work pay off, that’s the biggest thing I learnt from my sister. Plus, being a fucking woman, I could never do it. I don’t know how you wake up everyday.
I’m surprised you say that.
That shit sucks. My mom carried herself like a dude my whole life; she never wanted to come off like she was weak. And she took care of everybody. Then when my Grandfather died, I saw how the older men in her family treated her: like she was a little girl. That’s when I saw how hard it was to be a woman. No matter what, we always treat women like they’re beneath us. And that’s the most disgusting shit I’ve seen in my fucking life. I don’t like it at all. I’ve never seen a weak woman in my life. In that moment, with my mom, I saw that no matter who you are oppression still exists.