From Kanye West to André 3000: Vince Staples’ favourite songwriters
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From Kanye West to André 3000: Vince Staples' favourite songwriters

Vince Staples is an enigma in every sense, and his list of favourite songwriters is as far-reaching as you’d expect. Not one to draw influences exclusively from hip hop, Staples has taken inference from all across the musical spectrum, integrating different tones and textures into his own music.

Throughout his career, Staples has been someone it is almost impossible to pigeonhole, and this broad, eclectic list of the rapper’s favourite songwriters, provides an insight into how he’s become such a dynamic talent. While he is a hip hop artist, and he was raised partly on the genre, that was just one field of music that the rapper had sought inspiration from.

For the 28-year-old, songwriting is key, and music is secondary. Speaking to The Guardian in 2017, Staples discussed this topic, and it’s an eye-opening look into his influences.

Outside of the realm of hip hop, Staples name-checked artists, including the imperial Amy Winehouse. He commented, “I don’t know a weak Amy Winehouse moment. She was always creatively strong. Look at ‘Stronger Than Me’, ‘Fuck Me Pumps’, anything from Frank. It’s always been there.” Meanwhile, he also listed off Daft Punk, Portishead, Depeche Mode, Nena and Sam Cooke.

However, hip hop does also feature Staples expressing gratitude for André 3000. He explained how Outkast was his first introduction to rap music in his family home, and his love of the wordsmith has only soared with the benefit of age.

“The only rap album my family had was Outkast’s Stankonia. André is a great songwriter. He’s the best. It’s a unique writing style,” he told The Guardian. It’s not a duplicate of anything; it’s the way he structures his sentences and delivery. It’s not directed by the punchline, there’s no crescendo – it’s just like: this is what happened. It’s very conversational, kind of like SE Hinton when she writes a book.

“Everything is a conversation. It never feels impersonal. Do I wish he did more? No, not at all. If he wants to be an artist, then that’s his art – take it or go home. No one’s going to say it out loud, but most people want product. It’s a very selfish thing to be a fan because artists create the narrative for your life; it’s only natural for you to want more because you hold it so dear. But I want him to do whatever he wants to do.”

Unsurprisingly, Kanye West also receives a shout from Staples, who comments, “I heard The College Dropout in sixth grade. He’s an artist, where there’s no trajectory, and you can make whatever you want. We call musicians artists, but we don’t treat them like they are, because you can’t tell an artist what to do.”

Scarface is another rapper that Staples named, commenting, “The voice is so unique and the delivery is so matter-of-fact.” Following on, Staples shared why Lil Boosie will always occupy a monumental space within his heart. “I don’t like the concept of lyricists. We use that to separate and put down: you’re a lyricist and you’re not. If Little Richard says ‘Awopbopaloobop alopbamboom’, is he a lyricist? If a rapper said that they’d be like: ‘You’re not saying words. That’s not lyricism,’ he exclaimed.

“It’s a separation point, like the word ‘conscious’. You take a select few and put them above everyone else and it ultimately demeans the whole genre. You say: ‘Oh, they’re different. They’re the good version of whatever this is.’ I’m not about that. You can listen to Lil Boosie and learn about the prison-industrial complex, but he’s not a ‘lyricist’, so most people wouldn’t look for that.”

Vince Staples’ favourite songwriters

  • Amy Winehouse
  • Daft Punk
  • Portishead
  • Depeche Mode
  • Nena
  • Sam Cooke
  • Andrè 3000
  • Kanye West
  • Scarface
  • Lil Boosie