Rumors swirl about Vince Staples. He doesn't like white people. He graduated with honors from a private school in Orange County. He and Tyler, the Creator, hate each other. That last one is largely because the Odd Future frontman has loudly dissed the 18-year-old rapper. "I like really, really, dislike Vince," he's said, seemingly a propos of nothing.
About the only thing anyone knows for sure about Staples is that he was on Earl Sweatshirt's much-talked about 2010 debut, Earl. The album -- which preceded Earl's much-discussed exile -- made many year-end lists, and Staples' verse on the song "epaR" introduced him as a promising new talent.
Right now Staples is lounging on the bed of his Koreatown apartment, separating fact from fiction. He stretches out his long legs, as his dewy girlfriend rests her head against his shoulder. She's white, so we can toss that rumor aside, and he'll also have you know that he grew up and went to high school all over L.A. county, not in the OC. As for Tyler, he has no idea why the guy disses him. "I don't think I've imposed on anybody," he says. "He's just quirky."
Staples has plenty of advocates, however. "Watch out for this kid," says Speak, another highly-touted young rapper who is allied with Kreayshawn. "He's Earl's only equal." Staples' first mixtape, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, was released last month, and it speaks to his talent.
He's not as violently graphic as Odd Future; instead, there's yearning, and almost an element of sweetness on otherwise-disturbing fantasy tracks like "Taxi," where soured love ends in murder. Lines like "Never fuck with niggas who can point out where ya mama live," seem to stem from actual experience; his dad was a gangbanger, he says ("fuck that nigga"), though he declines to discuss his own brushes with the law.