It’s no secret to anyone who has actually listened to Vince Staples’ claustrophobic and dark album Summertime ’06 that Staples was involved in gang life and looks upon it as a dark time. Still, to hear him discuss it so openly — as he does in a new interview with the Guardian — comes as a bit of a shock.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect is Staples — who typically comes off as very warm and funny — revealing why he joined a gang in the first place.
“I started gangbanging because I wanted to kill people. I wanted to hurt people. There’s no reason: It’s a bloodthirst. The same reason people join the army: because they want to kill.”
Staples did add that gang life was a constant where he grew up, even if it wasn’t his expressly stated reason for joining:
“If you live in Long Beach, gang members are going to be your friends regardless. You don’t get ‘sucked into’ being an American, for example, you live there! Gangs are just part of southern Californian culture.”
Staples said that he can’t go back to Long Beach just yet. The things he did while he was a gang member could still come back to haunt him, but he did want to move back to his hometown eventually.
Staples also admitted that he has no problem with rap as entertainment or rappers who put on personas in general. However, when that fake persona is a gang member, it upsets him.
“It’s the reason why people like Mission: Impossible, there’s something captivating about danger. But it’s not fun when it’s real. People die, bro… It’s not some sh*t you sign up for.”