Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT TV’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. In honor of such a one-of-a-kind show, REVOLT will be recapping each weekly “Drink Champs” episode, so you can always catch the gems that are dropped in each lit interview.
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with rapper Vince Staples to discuss his career, experiences growing up, and his relationships with other artists in the industry.
Originally from Compton, California; Staples was reared in Long Beach and got heavily involved with the gang culture of the West Coast as a youth. After his mother forced him to move to Atlanta to put him on the right track, he returned to California and befriended Syd and Earl Sweatshirt of the rap collective Odd Future.
The friendship inspired Staples to launch his own career as a rapper and he released a string of mixtapes before releasing his debut album, Summertime ’06 in 2015. The project was highly praised by critics and the star went on to become one of the most lauded up-and-coming emcees in the game. In addition to working with a host of big-named artists such as Tyler, the Creator, Kendrick Lamar, and Mac Miller, Staples has also garnered a list of accolades including being named as one of XXL magazine’s 2015 “Freshman Class” emcees.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from the Vince Staples interview. Take a look at them below.
1. On Not Wanting to do a Verzuz Battle
Since its launch last year, the Verzuz webcast series has been one of the most talked about topics in the music industry and has since made an undeniable cultural impact. When asked by N.O.R.E. if he would ever participate in a battle, Staples shot down the idea because he said his catalogue isn’t wide enough.
“Hell nah, you got to have bangers for a Verzuz,” he said. “I got three plaques, that ain’t enough. You got to read the room…You got to know your lane.”
2. On His Friendship with Tyler, the Creator
Tyler, the Creator and Vince Staples’ friendship is well documented. In addition to touring together in 2018, the two always mention each other in interviews and no one can forget their viral 2015 freestyle on Hot 97’s “Real Late with Peter Rosenberg” show, which currently has over 2.3 million views on YouTube.
During his “Drink Champs” interview, Staples talked about his friendship with Tyler and revealed that he wasn’t always fond of the former OF front man. “Me and Tyler never got along. I used to hate that nigga,” he said. “But, that’s the homie now. Tyler gave me a lot of advice and he helped with a lot of shit. He’s really smart with everything he does, and everything is really calculated.”
3. On Never Experimenting with Drugs or Alcohol
It’s a rare occasion when celebrities appear on “Drink Champs” and don’t indulge in the flowing libations. Staples refrained from drinking during his sit down, and told N.O.R.E. and EFN that he doesn’t drink or do drugs because he witnessed the destruction they had on his family members at a young age. He added that his father once struggled with drugs and that ultimately influenced his decision to avoid that same path.
“I saw my pops go from being up and being the man to having all the cars to being whopped,” he said. “It’s just not cool. You don’t want to be the motherfucker who’s up, and then at one point, it all just goes away. I couldn’t let that happen to myself.”
Staples said that he also shunned drugs and alcohol because he wanted to stay alert and be aware of his surroundings in his neighborhood, which was filled with racial tension and gang violence. “I ain’t never want to get caught,” he said. “My sister got shot seven or eight times when I was a kid. And you ain’t really safe nowhere.”
4. On Not Listing Features on His Albums
The track list for Staples’ 2017 album, Big Fish Theory, doesn’t reveal the names of any featured artists, but artists like Lamar, Juicy J, and ASAP Rocky all made guest appearances. When asked about this on “Drink Champs,” he explained that he doesn’t like naming guest features on his projects because he believes it looks like a desperate attempt to cash in on another artist’s name.
“I don’t like how it looks on the track list and [it looks like] you trying to convince motherfuckers that you hard by using another nigga’s name,” he said. “It’s fake stupid, you’re supposed to use it to your advantage. But, I’m just not that type of dude. You can give the verse and that’s enough for me.”
5. On His Friendship with Mac Miller
Staples befriended Mac Miller and got the chance to collaborate with him a handful of times before his untimely death in 2018. Staples even told Rolling Stone that year that the late rapper was very instrumental in his early career and convinced him to stick with rap. On “Drink Champs,” he reflected on their relationship and said the rapper was struggling with things behind the scenes but was making strides to change. “That was the homie,” he said. “He was doing really good before he passed. Everybody knew he was struggling with some shit. Sometimes, you just don’t always win. I still talk to his mom.”
6. On Being a Successful Rapper
After Staples made the decision to be a rapper over a decade ago, his rise to fame has been remarkably meteoric. While some fledgling rappers from all over the world struggle for years to make it big, Staples told N.O.R.E. and EFN that he believes there is a formula to attaining success. “Music is not hard to do,” he said. “It’s so many different types of rap music. In hip hop, you just really need a story. And if you know how to tell it right, you can be successful with this shit.”
7. On Creating Records to be Used in Movies
Staples explained that there was a period when he stepped back from making music to appeal to the masses and opted to make music to be synced in movies. He recalled that during the era when Migos’ “Bad & Boujee” was heating up the airwaves, he was studying the music that was featured in his favorite action movies instead of trying to emulate what was on the radio.
“[Hollywood] was doing all kinds of alien movies, all kinds of superhero movies…Marvel was popping,” he said. “I was watching Blade Runner and I was watching certain shit to see what that kind of music sounded like. And we looked at what movies were coming out and we made songs that fit into certain things.”
8. On Avoiding Trouble with the Law
Since his debut, Staples has been upfront with his gang affiliation growing up and has touched on his troubles with the law. In 2019, he revealed on Twitter that he was officially off probation. On “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. asked him about his thoughts on rappers Pooh Shiesty and NBA Youngboy’s recent battles with the law. Staples explained that he believes it’s important to see the bigger picture in the long run.
“That’s one thing that people have to realize…you got to understand as an artist, you have so much of your life ahead of you,” he said. “Even if this rap shit only lasts for four or five years, you have real possibilities of economic growth and stabilization with your community and your family, and you have to be mindful of that.”
9. On Being Grateful for His Success
The recent release of Staples’ self-titled project marks a new era for the emcee. It’s his first album released on Motown since he signed with the label in 2019. When asked by N.O.R.E. if he is he happy in his current situation, he explained that he’s always grateful for everything he has — no matter what the situation is. “You got to be grateful,” he said. “I don’t care if 5000 people listen to your music. It’s somebody out there [with just] one person checking in. So, I can change the world with them 5000 people bumping my music. I’ll figure it out because that’s what I do.”