Vince Staples had a big year. Following up his acclaimed debut full-length — Summertime ’06, one of our favorite LPs of 2015 — he avoided the sophomore slump with the forward-thinking and similarly-acclaimed Big Fish Theory, which, as it turns out, was also one of our favorite albums of this year.
Big Fish Theory alone would be enough to make it a banner year, but it’s far from all Staples has been up to. It felt like he was always around, in the best way. He was one of the highlights of the new Gorillaz album Humanz. He got his very own Staples-themed can of his beloved Sprite. His song “BagBak” helped soundtrack an incredible trailer for Marvel’s forthcoming Black Panther. All the while, Staples was dominating the festival circuit, delivering sets that were more massive and impressive than ever before. For a while now, he’s been one of rap’s ascendant young names. But now, he’s on his way to the ubiquity that comes with being a star. On the occasion of this otherwise disastrous year coming to a close, we called up Staples in London to talk about his year and a few of 2017’s more light-hearted topics.
STEREOGUM: What are you doing over in London?
VINCE STAPLES: I’m doing some of the Gorillaz shows for the Humanz album. I’m just coming with them for a couple of these UK shows. They haven’t started them yet but they should be fine. Not too much to do, should be pretty simple.
STEREOGUM: You’ve been moving at a pretty good clip the last couple of years. Now that you released your sophomore LP and found this different sound, have you had any thoughts about putting it out and how fans responded?
STAPLES: I don’t ever really pay much attention. I was happy to work with the people I worked with this time. Everyone who worked on the album, I think they did a great job to the best of their abilities. We tried to do something new, and I’m happy with the results. I’m never really concerned with [reception or reviews], but as far as execution, I think we did a great job.
STEREOGUM: In the last few years, you’ve released two EPs and two LPs. Do you want to keep working at that rate? Do you intend to have something else next year as well?
STAPLES: I mean, it depends. Maybe, maybe not. We’re always working. Releasing things kinda depends on outside sources sometimes and if we feel we have something we want to share right away. As of right now, I’m not necessarily sure when anything else will come out.
STEREOGUM: I know when you’re working on a record it’s easy to get a little insular, but was there anything that stood out to you in 2017? Did you have a favorite song or album of the year?
STAPLES: Other than my music, no… at this point I’m not really interested in what anyone else is doing, aside from what we’re doing. What were things that came out? Kendrick’s album came out, that was great. Was the Childish Gambino album this year?
STEREOGUM: That was the end of last year.
STAPLES: Yeah, I don’t pay attention at all to anybody. But I know that a lot of great music came out.
STEREOGUM: You’ve been a Kendrick fan for a while.
STAPLES: He’s a real friend of mine, good dude. Very creative person. Tries to push forward, so I’m glad he was able to execute his vision.
STEREOGUM: Are you a Taylor Swift fan at all?
STAPLES: Do you think I listen to Taylor Swift’s music?
STEREOGUM: [Laughs] Well, I had to ask.
STAPLES: Nah. Haven’t heard it.
STEREOGUM: Did you get to the movies at all this year?
STAPLES: I saw Blade Runner, I liked that. Get Out. I saw Girls Trip on the plane, that was funny. I’ve been doing so much this year, you kind of become oversaturated with a lot of things. What the fuck else came out this year? Didn’t Star Wars come out?
STEREOGUM: Rogue One was last year and now there’s the new one.
STAPLES: I want to see the one that comes out this week. I saw Logan, Logan was actually really, really good. I liked Kingsman, I’m a fan of that series. Oh, Atomic Blonde was good.
STEREOGUM: The music was great in that. Are you a big Star Wars fan in general?
STAPLES: Not the original ones. I really haven’t seen them, to be honest. The prequel things came out when I was a kid in school so I liked those obviously. But I think the last two movies they put out have been really good. Taking something like that and trying to create something new from it is hard so, congratulations to them on doing such a good job.
STEREOGUM: Are you into superhero movies, too? Like Wonder Woman or Spider-Man?
STAPLES: I’ve seen some of them. Wonder Woman, I saw the beginning of that on a plane. I think the plot was interesting. We saw the one with the tree… Guardians Of The Galaxy. That was a good movie. Uh, yeah, they’re cool! I don’t have a problem watching anything as far as film. It depends on the time and the place. As far as superhero movies, there’s a lot that came out. The Justice League one just came out, I heard. They’re doing Black Panther, and I’m happy to be a part of that.
STEREOGUM: That one looks really awesome. Did you watch much TV this year, like Twin Peaks or Game Of Thrones?
STAPLES: I watched Snowfall, I really like that and think it’s a great show. I watch American Horror Story every year. This one was interesting… it was just interesting, I don’t really know how I feel about it. I haven’t seen Twin Peaks and I’m not watching Game Of Thrones. It’s 2017, I don’t want to see anything that far in the past. It just makes me uncomfortable. But I know it’s a great show. I’m excited for this next season of Westworld coming up. But, yeah, Snowfall, I’d say that’s the show I’ve been watching that I’m really interested in. It’s about the beginning of certain epidemics in Los Angeles. It didn’t get that much good reception but I don’t care about those things, I thought it was a great show. I saw the one with the kids… Stranger Things. I thought that was a strong season, especially as a followup to something that was so great.
STEREOGUM: Do you watch that show Rick & Morty at all?
STAPLES: Yeah, I like Rick & Morty, I think it’s funny. I think it’s a good cartoon.
STEREOGUM: Can you explain this Szechuan sauce thing to me?
STAPLES: I honestly have no idea. I know it’s a perception but I’m not really that tuned in to a lot of things. I guess it’s like a McDonald’s thing and people were kind of up in arms about it. Because it was on the show… I’m not really sure, but it sounds hectic.
STEREOGUM: Did you catch the total solar eclipse? I don’t know where you were in the world then.
STAPLES: I don’t think we were in town when it happened. I think we were flying. I don’t know where I was, but I was definitely mobile and couldn’t see anything. But I heard it was cute.
STEREOGUM: [laughs] Yeah it was just OK in New York. I didn’t realize if you put on the glasses it just turned into a little white dot, kind of. Did you have any friends at Fyre Fest?
STAPLES: Oh, the Ja Rule thing. I’m sad that didn’t turn out, it would’ve been a great thing. For Ja Rule and Ashanti both, I was praying that it went well. But who knows, maybe they’ll have it next year. Hopefully they get a second chance. All these other people getting chances and they mess up and mess up and mess up. If Ja Rule can get a government bailout and get another Fyre Fest, that would be great. I’ll perform. Actually, no I won’t, I don’t know why I said that.
— Trevor DeHaas (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
STEREOGUM: Are you a fan of fidget spinners?
STAPLES: A fan of what?
STEREOGUM: Those little three-pronged spinny things people were carrying around this year.
STAPLES: Oh, no I’m too old for things like that.
STEREOGUM: You’re only 24!
STAPLES: Yeah, but is anyone at 24 playing with a fidget spinner? I’m not sure how I feel about that.
STEREOGUM: I had an Uber driver once who was playing with one while driving.
STAPLES: Maybe he had fidgeting, and it might be something that could help soothe your mind or whatever. So, hey, let me not talk down on it. If you need a fidget spinner, I’m glad you know you got your little whatever. It’s kind of like a shake weight or something, these things come and go all the time.
STEREOGUM: Did you hear the debut singles from Bhad Bhabie?
STAPLES: Absolutely not. That wouldn’t really catch my ear. But, you know, I wish her the best. It’s cool that she’s a kid trying to explore her creativity.
STEREOGUM: What did you think of Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial?
STAPLES: It was a commercial. I didn’t think much of it. Not in a negative sense, I just wasn’t really thinking of it at all. We’re part of the Coca-Cola company so those things don’t cross our radar.
STEREOGUM: You used to be pretty active on Twitter. How did you feel about them expanding the character limit to 280?
STAPLES: When did they do that? I stopped using Twitter not too long ago. I mean, hey, let people get out what they gotta get out. I’m all for personal expression, so that’s cool.
STEREOGUM: One thing people debated earlier this year was whether it was OK to punch Nazis.
STAPLES: Yeah, I don’t even know what the fuck that means. I’m pretty sure it’s OK to not like racist people. Seems pretty obvious. As far as the violence of it … I’ll neither confirm nor deny acts of violence. I just wish everybody could not be racist and crazy. That would help me out a lot on my day-to-day.
Big Fish Theory is out now via Def Jam.