Keep It Real
Vince Staples explains why being authentic is still important in hip-hop.
As told to Emmanuel Maduakolam

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of XXL Magazine.

Vince Staples: I don't think people have as much integrity as they used to. It’s not just artists who should be truthful. You can be playing a role or a character in your music; it doesn’t have to be all factual. But if you’re telling people that this is exactly what it is and this is exactly who you are, I feel that you should tell people both sides of the story. Whether we like it or not, people actually do listen and take stuff from what we do.

If you’re an artist and you’re telling people, I sold drugs, I made this amount of money, and how your life is crazy but you don’t tell them about the struggle, about how much money that really cost and how much time you can do in jail, a kid can think that’s their way out and they can start that. You can be responsible for somebody going down a path without really knowing what they’re getting themselves into.

You got to have enough sense to know when and where things are important enough to prove. You got Eminem, and you know he’s not killing his baby mom and dragging people down rivers, but you know he was really going through stuff with his family. You can still have fun with the music and have it go other places but it all depends on balance. It’s kind of a limitless craft, so artists should take some responsibility if we’re going to be doing social commentary.

I appreciate this so much and the opportunity I got from [music]. I’m not trying to fuck it up. I’m not where I can be yet but I want to do as much as I can and stay as true.

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