Vince Staples Clarifies “Golden-Era” Remarks. In Doing So, He Raises Some GREAT Questions (Audio)
Vince Staples appears in a Time magazine video that published online yesterday (October 27). In it, the Def Jam Records artist from Long Beach, California was asked to reflect on 1990s pop culture. While admitting that he has never heard an album of Justin Timberlake’s work with N*SYNC or Mel B’s days with the Spice Girls, Staples made some powerful remarks about 1990s Hip-Hop too. In the segment that also discussed President Bill Clinton and Pokemon, Staples told Time, “The ’90s get a lot of credit [and] I don’t really know why. Biggie and Tupac, those are the staples of the ’90s—I think that’s why they get the Golden-Era credit. There’s not a 50 Cent in the ’90s—they didn’t even have a Kanye [West].” Staples, who was born in July, 1993, continued, “The early 2000s is where it’s at. The first song I remember listening to is Lil Bow Wow’s ‘Come Bounce With Me.’ Lil Bow Wow is one of my favorite rappers, ever. You could never take that from me.” The 22 year-old seemingly stressed perspectives in how eras and decades create fans.
Since the video released, a October 28 XXL report prompted Staples and N.O.R.E. (among others) to engage in a social media debate. N.O.R.E.’s career began in the 1990s, thanks to his time in Penalty Records duo Capone-N-Noreaga.
During Sway In The Morning this morning (October 29), Staples called in from his home in Long Beach to clarify his Time remarks, the reporting of those statements. Along the way, he made some truly insightful points about the growing generation gaps, and spreading perspectives in Hip-Hop:
“I definitely do [feel I was misrepresented in a headline, But even if I was not], so what?” began the Summertime ’06 maker and XXL freshman. “Who are we to try to diminish anybody else’s art-form? To me, it’s like, if you don’t feel like the ’90s was the greatest era of Hip-Hop—which isn’t what I said—but if it’s not, then it’s just ‘fuck you’? What if I like the ’80s? What if I like the early 2000s? You sayin’ that nobody else’s art-form matters unless it’s in the ’90s? That’s corny.”
In discussing his point with Sway Calloway, Heather B, and Tracy G, Staples added personal context. “When the ’90s ended, I was six years old. I would hope any parents wouldn’t want their six year-old child or younger listening to music that was carrying the kind of content that was carried in the [artists people are talking about]. My father went to prison for the majority of my life. My mommy a full-fledged gang-banger, bro. So, they was makin’ sure I went to church. They didn’t want me to listen to people talkin’ about shooting people and sellin’ crack, bro.” Vince used NBA basketball to emphasize his point. “I can watch [Michael] Jordan footage all day, but I’m not gonna know what it’s like to watch him in the finals. So if my seven year-old nephew thinks Lebron James is the best basketball player ever, do I tell him, ‘fuck him’ and all the [outcry] that’s been thrown at me?”
Additionally, Staples waved off all notions of beef, especially between he and the Lefrak City, Queens veteran MC. “N.O.R.E. called and apologized, because he didn’t watch the interview. When he watched the interview, he saw there was no harm [intended]. He [initially] thought I was trying to be funny when I told him my favorite N.O.R.E. song that I ever heard came in the 2000s. He said it himself: his biggest hits that he’s had came in the 2000s.”
Perhaps the best point Vince Staples made came late in the nearly 20-minute call: “The thing that makes you love anything artistically or culturally is the experiences you have while you experience the product. So in the sense of…I don’t know what it felt like when [Nas’] ‘NY State Of Mind’ first dropped. But I know what it felt like when [Snoop Dogg’s] ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ first dropped or when ‘Crip Hop’ first dropped from Tha Eastsidaz, ’cause that’s what made me want to do what I did with my life. Now do that mean that [one] is better than the other song? Hell no, but that’s my experience with that personal artist.”
Staples continued, “I know every Nas album; I know Nas. You get what I’m sayin’? But if you ask me my favorite Nas song, it’s always gonna be ‘Made You Look,’ ’cause I [remember] when it came out.” As the discussion grew to a general relationship between pioneers and contemporary acts, Vince Staples actually pointed to before the 1970s. “Rap, in general, was ushered in by James Brown and Muddy Waters.” Before leaving, the No I.D.-backed artist restated his original point in the Time video. “I said I don’t know why it’s the Golden Era ’cause I wasn’t around during the era. Did I say anything bad about the music? No.”
This very subject came up in this year’s Ambrosia For Heads “Finding The GOAT” video series. Part 2 of the four-part installment takes a deep look at how perspectives shape overall opinions surrounding the culture, and what we as Hip-Hop Heads deem “great”:
Should Vince Staples’ remarks be upsetting to anybody? Is it refreshing to hear a respected 2015 MC go on record and praise an early 2000s Bow Wow single, earnestly?