Graphics and poster courtesy of Vince Staples. Edited by Brian Addison.
Since the release of his EP Hell Can Wait, North Long Beach rapper Vince Staples has built a name that returns to what West Coast rap once was: un-commercial, un-radio, unfriendly toward party anthems. What it represented was a gritty, if not outright discomforting analysis and look into life within the confines of our most marginalized neighborhoods—and Staples’ no-bullshit look at life, all the while maintaining an astute ear for musicality, has turned him into one of rap’s most successful underdogs.
And also one of its most subversive representatives of Long Beach. Just check out the poster he created for his Life Aquatic tour with NYC avant-rap conversationalist and R&B artist Kilo Kish: leading a blow-up boat in colors and style that is a direct nod to the Wes Anderson film from which the tour borrows its name, the lush skyline of Long Beach reigns in the background.
The wonderful oddity of the poster itself shouldn’t be shocking: Staples is a rapper constantly pushing the boundaries of his versatility and style. Hell, the guy toured with emo-driven British crooner and producer James Blake (and even invited him on as producer on tracks on his latest release, Prima Donna).
“Rappers are making this shit a petting zoo. They’re like, ‘It’s cool, you can walk up, we’re not threatening, we’re just musicians, it’s all an act.’ But it’s actually a very real thing. It’s not a game. One of my friends just died last month.”
But never question Staples’ versatility as a pause in his beautifully dark view of the world.
“The way I look at music—especially urban music, black-people music, whatever you want to call it—is that we’re all in the zoo, and the listeners are the people outside of the cage,” Staples once said. “You can look at five lions that could literally destroy you, but since you’re looking through the glass, it’s fun and cute. You point at the glass. You wave at them. But you’re not going to step inside that glass, because you know what’ll happen to you. Rappers are making this shit a petting zoo. They’re like, ‘It’s cool, you can walk up, we’re not threatening, we’re just musicians, it’s all an act.’ But it’s actually a very real thing. It’s not a game. One of my friends just died last month—got shot in his face five times in the back of his mom’s house in front of his 5-year-old sister. He was 24 and a good dude, went to work, never really hurt nobody. So if this is what we’re rapping about, why do you not feel that?”
The Life Aquatic Tour hits the following locations around the world:
12-06 Auckland, New Zealand – Powerstation
12-07 Auckland, New Zealand – Powerstation
02-24 San Diego, CA – North Park Observatory
02-25 Oakland, CA – Fox Theatre
02-27 Seattle, WA – Showbox Sodo
02-28 Vancouver, British Columbia – Vogue Theatre
03-01 Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
03-03 Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre
03-05 Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater
03-07 Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works
03-08 Atlanta, GA – Center Stage
03-16 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
03-17 Milwaukee, WI – Rave II
03-19 Chicago, IL – Metro
03-20 Indianapolis, IN – Deluxe at Old National Centre
03-22 Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
03-23 Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
03-24 Toronto, Ontario – Phoenix Concert Theatre
03-25 Montreal, Quebec – Corona
03-27 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
03-28 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
03-30 New York, NY – Terminal 5
03-31 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
04-03 Norfolk, VA – Norva
04-04 Birmingham, AL – The Saturn
04-06 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
04-07 Dallas, TX – Southside Music Hall
04-08 Phoenix, AZ – Margaret T. Hance Park
04-09 Phoenix, AZ – Phoenix Lights Festival
For more information: www.vincestaples.com