We Need More Artists Like Vince Staples

This article originally appeared on ShopBonsai.

 

Vince Staples opens his Prima Donna EP singing “This little light of mine, i’m gonna let it shine,” before transitioning into a furious bar from Andre 3000. “Put my Glock away I got a stronger weapon that never runs out of ammunition so I’m ready for war OK.”

Reading between the lines, Staples’ battle cry on War Ready comes across as a brief manifesto: having moved beyond his criminal past (one he’s been very open about) Vince has moved on to a higher calling: speaking his mind through rap. As you may have heard, the Long Beach, California rapper has developed quite the reputation for saying exactly what is on his mind both on and off record, regardless of the consequences, and I submit that we all stand to benefit from his dedication to the cause.

As you can see above, midway through a typical softball interview at Coachella Vince Staples commandeered his conversation with Nadeska Alexis to call out R. Kelly for what we all know him to be: a predator. While Vince didn’t share any new information, (Buzzfeed published the definitive story on Kelly’s predatory nature several months ago) the attention Staples has brought to the issue now serves as a brilliant proof of concept for his War Ready mandate.

Tragically for all of us, media of all kinds have a stake in the artists and personalities they benefit from covering. In the case of R. Kelly, Alexis’ inexplicable attempt to shut down the conversation is a brutal example of this bias in action, and frankly, it is infuriating to see how far some are willing to go to protect someone so vile.

While I recognize the difficult position Alexis was put in, those in positions of power must not allow personal incentive to trump their better nature. Like Vince Staples, we must all come together to recognize the power of our voices, and the importance of telling truth to those in power. The struggle we experience in confronting those who have done wrong is real, however the cost of not doing so is far greater.

R. Kelly’s lawyer and publicist dropped him only six days after Vince Staples spoke up at Coachella. Like Hannibal Buress’ comedy bit regarding the questionable actions of Bill Cosby, Staples simply pointed a spotlight on an issue and brought about change. Now ask yourself a simple question: how long would Kelly have remained a part of the music industry if Alexis was successful in shutting Staples down?

We need more people like Vince Staples.