Vince Staples Learned To Take Rapping More Seriously From Common

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Photo By: Meredith Truax

Vince Staples is gaining more recognition than you’d expect. The 21-year-old Long Beach native recently got a big look on Common’s Nobody’s Smiling, appearing on his single “Kingdom” and “Out On Bond.” In Common’s eyes, Vince is a talented MC who motivated him to go harder in the studio. ““I like him. He’s cold on the mic,” he said in an interview with HotNewHipHop. “When I heard him rapping, I was like, “This dude can really rhyme.” It made me want to write.” You really can’t get more praise than that.

This week, Common released his tenth studio LP, which was his first on Def Jam. He’s currently on a huge promotional run, recently sitting down with XXL for a Google+ Hangout and performed “Kingdom” with Vince by his side on Jimmy Kimmel Live. We got on the phone with Vince to talk about collaborating with Common, what he learned from him, and his thoughts on making the XXL Freshman list next year.—Eric Diep

XXL: After releasing Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2. do you feel like you are getting more recognition in the rap game?
Vince Staples: I mean, there’s more than one more variable than just music so you can’t ever really gauge that. You gotta [have] music, you gotta have visuals, you gotta have the connection. You never really know when attention is more on you if you focus [on it]. I couldn’t really tell you. I know it is getting better because the music is getting better, but we still have to come full circle with everything. I feel like we still have a long way to go.

When did you and Common link together?
When I first got my little situation with No I.D., I played him some of my music and he was fucking with it. He just told No I.D. to tell me that he liked my stuff. And then when it was time to do the album, they had a couple of tracks and Dion was looking for somebody to be on. Common and Dion was going over the tracks, specifically “Kingdom.” Common said, “We should get Vince.” Dion said they thought it was a good idea. And it just happened like that.

How does it feel to have Common co-sign your music like that?
It’s tight. He do a lot in this shit. He got bread. I tell you – when a motherfucker is really rich, they don’t have to pretend they like it. You get what I am saying? It comes from a genuine place. They obviously just like your music. That’s the best thing to me.

You were featured on “Kingdom” and “Out On Bond” on Nobody’s Smiling. What did you learn from the experience?
Just how much you should put in your music. He really thinks everything out all the way. He has variables within his stuff. You gotta really think about it ’cause everything that you are doing is going to be here forever. You gotta treat stuff like it is never gonna go away. You just have to take it to the level of seriousness [that he has.] He took it very serious and that taught me to take it serious.

In an recent interview, Common said that he liked that you wrote your raps right there in the studio. He felt that spontaneity was amazing. It made him step his game up too. How were the studio sessions like?
It was cool. I be chillin’. We had hung out and shit previously, so that’s the homie. Just being in the studio with your homie. It’s a very relaxed environment, no pressure and nothing like that. It’s like figuring out what songs we trying to do and get it done. It’s a lot easier than it kind of seems. To have the environment is the most of it. You gotta have a good environment and make sure everyone is in a good mood and everybody comfortable. That’s when the best stuff happens.

He also said you were one of the coldest MCs out. How do you take that?
I’m aight. It’s all hardwork. As far as how music is going right now, there’s not a lot of people who kind of have their own thing going. You got a bunch of boy bands and a bunch of motherfuckers who are envious. We got 80 Migos songs out. Everybody want to be the Migos and all the sucker shit. There’s nothing wrong with that. I personally don’t care. That’s just the nature of the game. It’s just cool to have somebody feel that type of way. I’m never gonna stop worrying about myself. I am just be making songs.

Are you influenced by Common in any way? I feel like in Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 you are taking some of his techniques of storytelling.
Honestly, no. I am 21. When I was younger, Common was doing “Go!” and shit. And that was the shit. That’s the Common I grew up with. I don’t know about Resurrection and the other stuff. I could sit here and lie to you like everybody else lie to you and say I was listening to Wu-Tang when I was in the 3rd grade. That shit is not the case. It’s just a mindstate, you feel me? People have similar minds and I think that’s really where it came from.

I don’t really have a lot of musical influences. My musical influences comes from the things that I learned in life through. Things I’ve heard in music because I really didn’t grow up on some wanting to be a rapper type shit. I didn’t really apply that to my life like that. It was more like when you watch a movie, it is lesson learned.

At this point, do you still have a lot more things to tell people?
I mean, we got some stories. It’s all on how you do it. My whole thing is packing it the right way. You don’t want to give too much, you don’t want to give too little. You can have the best songs in the world, but if it ain’t packaged right, it don’t matter. You gotta have everything running. I’m just working on giving everything the way that is supposed to be given.

Is it kind of strange to have a veteran like Common take pointers from you?
I mean, no. That’s why he is still here. You gotta be willing to learn if you want to stick around. That makes perfect sense to me. The motherfuckers who didn’t want to listen to nobody is the ones that were too caught up in their shit to really see what it was and see what they could do better. They not here no more. That make perfect sense to me. I learn from people everyday no matter who they are.

Can we expect another collaboration with you and Common in the future?
Yeah, why not? I’m with everything that makes sense. That’s the bro. We be kickin’ it. He texted me yesterday. That’s my friend. [Laughs]

We dropped our 2014 Freshman list this year and a lot of readers online said we missed Vince Staples. Do you feel like you need to be on next year?
I mean, if I am still on Freshman contention in 2015, I probably fucked up. We gonna see. I take what I can get. Honestly. It’s a good looking cover. I don’t have no stick up my ass. Whatever I do, whatever I can take, Ima take it. Say thank you. ‘Cause nobody gotta give you nothing. It’s music. People pick when you think you are important. Somebody feel like what you have to say matters. That matters more than anything in the world. I just do what I do. No matter who they are, no matter how many people.