FROM THE MAGAZINE

Vince Staples Always Lives in the Moment

With two new albums and a Netflix show in the works, the Los Angeles rapper is about to be everywhere—again.

Photographed by Quil Lemons
Styled by Corey T. Stokes

Vince Staples wears an Isabel Marant sweater; Nike sneakers; stylist’s own jeans and socks.
Vince Staples wears an Isabel Marant sweater; Nike sneakers; stylist’s own jeans and socks.

When Vince Staples entered the mainstream with the release of his 2015 single Señorita, he was already a cult heavy hitter—having released four mixtapes (including one with the late Mac Miller), touring with Schoolboy Q, and making music with Jhené Aiko and Teyana Taylor. This relentless work ethic hasn’t slowed six years later—in fact, the musician has released a slate of projects this past year, and is releasing the first single from his self-titled LP, Vince Staples, on June 18. For W’s annual Music Issue, he opens up about getting inspired by the creative process and always making music that comes from a personal place.

Over the course of your career—which includes three studio albums, four mixtapes, and dozens of features since 2011—you have worked with a range of producers who helped cultivate your singular, Long Beach–inflected sound. Your latest LP, Vince Staples, is partly a collaborative effort with Kenny Beats, a good friend of yours. How did the idea to work together come about?

He sent me a beat that I recorded on, and it just went from there. We didn’t go into it intentionally thinking that we would end up with as much as we had. We ended up working two days a week for a month, from after Thanksgiving until before Christmas in 2020. A couple of weeks in, we looked up, and we had some stuff.

How much time do you spend conceptualizing a project before actually recording?

A lot of this job is trying to formulate a perspective and using that perspective to guide you. That’s probably the most time-consuming part: just trying to make sure you have something that’s grounded in you. That way, you can put it into whatever project you end up doing. Other than that, a studio session cycle is a couple of hours. You can record a song in five or 10 minutes. You’ll be there for an hour, get five songs done, and go home. That’s really how it happens.

Stussy top.

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Were you listening to anything to inspire you while you were working on the LP?

I don’t really listen to music much, period. I never really did, even growing up. I feel like the process itself is inspiring. Of course, you have music that plays a part in pivotal moments in your life. You can always go back and reference those.

In addition to the Vince Staples LP, you have a full album coming out, Ramona Park Broke My Heart. What’s the meaning behind the title?

It just sounds nice. I don’t think it makes sense to be too heavy-handed with certain things. Music is so subjective. So with that, it was just part of my thought process at the time: What symbolism can I throw in here that can be taken as a direct thing? What does this mean? What does this sound like? It’s all based on personal tastes.

Isabel Marant sweater.

Grooming by Nai’vasha for Boy de Chanel at the Wall Group; photo assistant: Alexander Cody Nguyen.

You seem like very much a realist. Do you believe in manifestation, voicing hopes and dreams aloud to make them come to fruition in real life?

I think that there’s too many variables to ever know. I’ve heard it works from several people that I consider to be very truthful people, but I just take life as it comes, day by day. I feel like that’s part of being an artist: You have to be aware of the world around you. I don’t get too stubborn in my approach to what I want to happen; I just deal with what comes.