• Gov't Name: Vincent Staples
  • Twitter: @vincestaples
  • Instagram: @vincestaples
  • Age: 21
  • Reppin: Long Beach
  • Notable Releases: Singles: “Nate,” "Blue Suede," “Screen Door”; Mixtapes: Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2; EPs: Hell Can Wait; Guest appearances: Common’s “Kingdom,” Earl Sweatshirt’s “Hive”
  • Label: Blacksmith/ARTium/Def Jam
  • Currently Working On: Promoting Summertime ’06, his debut album due out this month
  • Surprised About Who Is Missing: “I needed my man Makonnen here. I would like some of the homies Joey Fatts, Aston Matthews, but it’s all a process. I mean, if you’re here you deserve it. Everybody here is supposed to be here.”
  • Influenced By: “Life man, ’cause if you not making music about life, then whose life are you going to relate to? Without that then you’re just another person trying to make money off something.”
  • As A Freshman In High School: “I was bad. I didn’t go to school. I wish I was in school when I was a freshman. I went to sports games though. I had an array of issues when I was in high school. That wasn’t my best time. But I liked my freshman year. That’s one of my best situations I ever had in school.”

TRUTH: On Being A 2015 XXL Freshman: “It’s cool man. In the words of Lil B, I feel like I should have been had one of these. I been going hard. But nah, it’s a gift; to say that somebody else sees you as the future of something, especially for a person like me. I thought I was going to be nothing and I was cool on it. So this, I’m appreciative.

More than anything, more than money, success or fame, the fact that people say they believe my music can be something one day, that means something. The label told me that I made it and it was a pleasant surprise. Now it’s just about making the music that’s going to change the world. That’s all that matters. Nobody cares about how many records you done sold. Nobody cares about how cool you was, nobody cares about how much money you made. When you dead and gone, the one thing they’re going to say is, what did your music change? So I’m trying to change something no matter what it is, 'cause that change will go down in history. Nothing else do.

I don’t want to fall off. Niggas be falling off. I don’t want to get cocky, get bougie, I just want to continue to go on the path [critics] saw me on. I don’t want to jinx myself. I ain’t never had no pressure. They say pressure make diamonds so hopefully we come out with something. I feel like being a Freshman in the eyes of the fans means your hard work is paying off and it gets them excited to see what you’re going to do in the future. To be a Freshman in the eyes of this industry means you can be something we’re all going to remember.

I didn’t even think about music, bro. I wasn’t one of the kids that grew up thinking about music. I started making music when I was 15 years old. Didn’t know how to do it until I was 18. Now I’m 21. So nothing can change for me; it's all a learning process. I feel like I’m learning with my music and my music is going to keep evolving. If I feel I know what’s next then I’m going to try and do that and let it naturally take its course. It’s been working so far. We don’t want to change nothing. It’s all growth.

The first Freshman class I remember is Kendrick Lamar’s, ’cause it had Kendrick and Lil B The BasedGod. Lil B, one of the best Freshmen of all time; very underrated, very influential to the rap game. We can talk adlibs, we can talk song structure, we can talk tiny pants; Lil B been out here. So that was the best Freshman class. It’s never been any cover with multiple people who’s relatively unknown. It’s been a benchmark for discovering talent. We all know the fans discover the talent, but recognizing the power of a fan base, even when it’s small, that’s what it embodies. ’Cause the power's in the people. This lets us put the power back into the people and the people haven’t had power in a very long time. I don’t care about [outside pressure] because a lot of people don’t know where I come from. I gangbanged, fuck him he from over there, we don’t like him for this, that reason. That’s my life.

I come from a situation where you approach with negativity first ’cause that’s what you live in. This is a positive thing. Everybody don’t have to like your music; different strokes for different folks. You got to be optimistic. Rapping is rapping; that’s the easy part. I got nothing to prove but to the people from where I come from. I want to mean something to the people [from where] I come from ’cause we didn’t care about nothing when we was younger. I want to be that ’cause somebody got to be that, either that or we just going to keep dying for nothing. So that’s why I’m going to try and fix that situation with music. That’s the easiest way to fix everything.

We need to improve everything. You got to be well-rounded. It’s life. I want to be apart of every part of life. We taking every opportunity and making the most of it because we never got one before and that’s how we’re living.” —Emmanuel Maduakolam

Behind-The-Scenes: Vince Staples