Foreign Gists

Vince Staples’ earliest memory in music


Vince Staples is one of hip hop’s most versatile young artists. Slowly but surely rising to prominence over the last decade, he has successfully carved out his own lane in the genre with a unique sound that can’t be labelled. Akin to other LA acts such as Tyler The Creator and Kendrick Lamar, Staples has always been unscathed by trends showing unparalleled authenticity and artistic integrity with his music.

The 27-year-old rapper has always been eclectic with his art and has always provided his fans with projects that fuse genres and push boundaries. First exposed to the mainstream through his features with Odd Future, it is no wonder that his music is sonically distinct and refreshing. Staples’ 2015 album, Summertime ‘06, received an abundance of critical acclaim, and since his appearance on the 2015 ‘XXL Freshman List’, he has gone on to prosper.

The rapper now has five albums under his belt, with his latest album Ramona Park Broke My Heart (2022), peaking at number 21 on the Billboard 200. However, wouldn’t it be interesting to know what kind of music the lauded artist listened to growing up? Well, in an interview with TIDAL, Staples opened up about the five records that had the greatest impact on his life. However, perhaps the most compelling revelation is Staples’ first musical memory.

For the in-depth interview, the rapper was asked what he listened to growing up as an aspiring rapper in Long Beach, California. To which he responded with a number of different albums revealing he enjoyed Snoop Dogg’s 2004 album R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece declaring it was “One of my favourite Snoop albums. It had the right message at the right moment, embodying what Long Beach felt like at that point in time. From the production to what was said to the videos, everything was perfect. Great memories from this project.”

The rapper, with his eclectic taste, also paid homage to the late Jazz singer Amy Winehouse admitting he was a fan of Back to Black explaining, “I don’t really know why I like this album so much, in all honesty, but it’s great. Every song puts you in a specific mood that you can’t escape from until it is over. Depressing in a sense, but for all the right reasons. A true artist can make you feel both their sorrow and their happiness. You feel all of these emotions back to back and transform them into these stories without noticing the shift. Definitely someone who was gone too soon. R.I.P.”

However, his earliest and first musical memory came in the form of conscious New Jersey rapper Lauryn Hill, and her debut album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, which he holds dear, detailing, “This is my earliest memory of music. My mom had this on cassette and would play it every day while picking me up from school. Between that, India Arie and Kirk Franklin, this connected with me the most. Whether it was dealing with social issues or simply the emotion behind the music, it helped shape some of the views that I still hold with me today.

It is evident that Staples was exposed to a vast range of music growing up, so it is no wonder his music is so diverse itself. You can listen to The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill below.