Vince Staples on Creating ‘The Vince Staples Show’ & New Music

In the opening episode of Vince Staples’s new Netflix show, The Vince Staples Show, the 30-year-old “kind of famous and sort of rich” rapper finds himself temporarily locked up in jail with two people very interested in getting to know him, but for very different reasons. One wants to pitch himself as a fellow musician, and one wants to stab Staples because of the neighborhood he’s from. Thus, the dichotomy at the heart of the slightly surreal, very funny five-episode series is set: how does one navigate daily life after reaching a certain pinnacle of success, while still remaining closely ensconced in the community from which you came?

It’s a theme Staples fans will recognize from his musical body of work, which includes albums like 2015’s Summertime ’06 and his most recent meditation on his hometown of Long Beach, California, Ramona Park Broke My Heart. As a writer and producer on the series (in addition to being in nearly every scene), Staples’s signature dry wit and existentialist perspective is infused into each episode, which tells the story of a different day in his life, typically equal parts mundane and absurd.

Staples has dabbled in acting over the course of his nearly 15-year career, holding guest spots on series like Abbott Elementary—he had a scene-stealing arc as Maurice, the ex-boyfriend/love interest of Quinta Brunson’s Janine—and co-starred in 2023’s White Men Can’t Jump remake with Jack Harlow and Sinqua Walls. But this is the first time the multihyphenate is creating his own show. “This is my first go-around,” Staples tells W. “I can get a lot better if I just get more swings at it.”

Vince Staples in The Vince Staples Show

Courtesy of Netflix

This show has been a long time in the making. What was the original vision and do you feel you were able to execute it?

“What is reality?” was a question. “How do you get through a day?” was a question. When people think about family or friends or success, fame, money—it’s all based on your perception. We wanted to play with that in each episode in a different way.

There are many subtly absurd, surrealist elements in The Vince Staples Show. What were some of your influences?

As human beings, I feel like everything we digest influences us indirectly. So, from being a child and watching The Twilight Zone, The Andy Griffith Show or M*A*S*H with grandparents. Or The Wizard of Oz, a lot of the work of the Coen Brothers, Roy Andersson—I’m a big fan of his. In a more contemporary sense, Better Call Saul, Wilfred, Utopia. Atlanta, obviously. We get a lot of comparisons to [Atlanta], which I’m very grateful for, because that’s an extremely successful show, and had such a great impact on the landscape. I would also say Barry is one of my favorites, and Fargo, for just having great storytelling.

I try to make sure I take from everything that I see and figure out, not necessarily shots or styles of dialogue or things of that nature, but how did I feel when I saw this thing, and how do I translate that emotion into something else?

Staples and Myles Bullock

Ser Baffo/Netflix

Did you have a favorite episode, or one that you enjoyed shooting the most?

The pilot, the bank episode, and the family reunion were all great, but I really enjoyed the theme park episode. There weren’t as many setups, but a lot of interesting depictions of reality. That was our dystopian, almost David Lynch-esque episode—to the best of my capability. I had fun making that one.

Do you want to keep pursuing acting? How do you feel about it as a next step in your progression as an artist?

You take these classes, and you read these books, and you learn these methods just for someone to tell you eventually, “Just be yourself.” It’s all important, because you have to learn how to transfer yourself into the character. But you’re acting on stage, you’re acting in the press, you act as you greet people when you’re having a bad day, you act when you go to work, when you’re with your family. It’s the nature of humanity: we’re always putting on some facade just to exist in this society. With that understanding, I feel like it’ll take me far within the medium if I can just learn how to properly apply it.

Kareem Grimes and Staples

Courtesy of Netflix

If you get renewed for a second season, what do you envision for it?

Our unique setup allows us to have as many episodes or seasons as possible, because there’s always more life, until there’s not. There are also more days until there aren’t. I want to make sure we’re staying true to that format. I grew up watching The Simpsons and King of the Hill heavily, and I’m borrowing from that style of animation—of what a day in the life could mean for the protagonist or the antagonist or a side character.

Let’s get into some Culture Diet questions. How do you get your news?

I try to not get any news, to be 100 percent honest. Of course, you get a lot of stuff on social media, but I’m trying to stay away from that as I get older. I get my news in passing as I hear it, from neighbors, family, and friends.

You’re very popular on social media. What are some of your favorite accounts?

I really like Cinema Excelsior and Cinema Language. Bon Appétit, I’m always on there stealing from other people’s recipes. Architectural Digest YouTube videos, that’s also my thing. The YouTube videos of old people eating food, saying they don’t like it? I love that form of content. ‘Grandma tries Mexican food for the first time’—that’s my shit.

You spoke about some TV series you’ve been influenced by while making The Vince Staples Show. Are there any others you’ve been watching lately?

I really like The Boys. The Bear, that’s not super recent, but it’s really great. Abbott, of course. Family Feud, Rick and Morty. I’m still a cartoon guy.

What’s the last movie you watched, in theaters, or otherwise?

Poor Things, Anatomy of a Fall. I really liked Dream Scenario. Beau Is Afraid, The Holdovers, I saw. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, I liked that movie. I like wholesome things. The Fabelmans, it was depressing, but it was cool. Especially moving more into that space, I try to watch everything that comes out just to get a gauge on composition.

You mentioned some Oscars contenders. Do you watch awards shows?

No. I’ve honestly never watched an award show.

What music are you listening to these days?

Honestly, nothing new, just Random Access Memories. A new album by The Offline I’ve been listening to.

I like silence. I honestly just drive around in silence; I like the sound of the world, so to speak. I’ve never really been a big music listener, especially since I’ve been making music for such a long time. But I have a couple of things I’ll listen to on repeat.

That makes total sense.

Within the process of creating music, you just review the things you’re making. So, if I’m making a show, I’m watching my show. If I’m making music, I’m listening to my music.

I’m sure the fans would love to know if there’s any new music on the horizon.

We’re always making music. It’s been on the shelf for the past couple weeks, months, years, however long it’s been. But we’re always recording, always making new things. When time and the climate permits, I’ll definitely put something out.

All five episodes of The Vince Staples Show are now available on Netflix.

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