KK: Are you a pretty quick writer?

VS: Yeah, definitely. I write fast, but I don’t gain the ideas fast.

KK: I want to talk a little about Prima Donna. I saw the film and it really resonated with me. I gathered that much of it addressed what we were talking about before: internal struggles of the artist and how they are perceived in the public eye.

VS: Exactly that. This was never a dream I had growing up. Sometimes we can get blinded by our own expectations, but I never had any expectations, so I’m able to pay attention. I’m always sober, so I notice a lot—[the public] doesn’t care, for the most part. I can see how easily somebody can take away the credibility of your work, your craft, ignore the fact that you have an actual life, and be focused on what they want for you. You’re an action figure and they want to pick the way that you pose.

KK: I think people ignore that to be creative and to make things is to be perceptive and sensitive to the world around you. To be hypersensitive. A lot of the pressure and the framework of life is exposed to us, and we try to make sense of it through expression, but there are still a lot of questions and no one really has the answers. You see your heroes and people who are more successful, and they’re still struggling with the same things that you’re struggling with. No one’s found the complete answer. It’s really hard because you have a public that in some ways doesn’t really understand you the way you want them to. It’s a battle between your own internal conversation versus the conversation that you’re having with the public, and the conversation that the public is having with you and about you while you’re not there.

I’m 26, and I still struggle with all the ways of being. There are so many ways you can choose to be in life, and they’re all accessible. You can fake one way or another, or you can just do whatever. It’s nice that you’ve found freedom and understand that people sometimes are not going to understand. You just have to go on doing what you feel is right.

I feel like I’ll always be okay because this
is the best-case scenario for my life.
I had literally nothing else—no support system,
no real family, no real friends.
— Vince Staples

VS: And that’s the reason a lot of my favorite interviews get fucked up—people are kind of crazy sometimes. I said once that I want my music to make people feel uncomfortable, and they took it as some kind of ‘black plight’ to make people feel like they are unwelcome in my world. No matter what I say in my song, it always goes back to being sad, black and a gangbanger. When I said that I want people to feel uncomfortable, that wasn’t anything racial or locational, just that music isn’t always made from the purest place or from the happiest or saddest place. I want people to understand, but I also want them to listen to a song and wonder where it’s going. I want them to be unsure of what things are, and that’s one thing that I’m doing more. Maybe I’m losing fans…

KK: There are so many questions. The better that you get at making things, the more options present themselves to you, and it becomes overwhelming. Right now, especially with media, it’s really hard because it’s like, “What are the bullet points about this artist?” Nobody is that one dimensional—not only artists, but people. It’s a weird framework to work within.

How do you relax if you relax?

VS: I don’t know if I do. [Laughs] I just try to ignore it all. I find happiness and relaxation with my family. If my mom’s okay, I’m okay. I have to think about it because I never stop working. I’ve been touring a lot, and have been home very few weeks out of this year. It’s sometimes hard for me to be stuck inside something I created. I’m trying to come to terms with it and figure out how to still create my music.

I feel like I’ll always be okay because this is the best-case scenario for my life. I had literally nothing else—no support system, no real family, no real friends. I had nothing left that would make me okay. So if i can deal with a little bit of confusion or struggle I’m fine, because that’s what my life was. I’d rather not know who I am than not know where I’m going.

KK: For me at least, I don’t really think about myself or who I, Lakeisha Kimberly Robinson, am as long as my art can live. I honestly wish that I didn’t have to exist—that only the art could exist and be a living, breathing person without me, but it can’t. So sometimes struggle, confusion, madness or creativity is a necessary evil. This has been a kind of dark interview…

VS: I feel like it’s a good thing. This is one thing I know for a fact in life: the greatest things are created from pain. Through pain, we create life. And if there’s one thing we know, it’s that most of the greatest pain is self-inflicted. That’s what this is. Being a creative person, creating music, is self-inflicted pain because you don’t have to do it. It’s a sacrifice you have to make to bring something beautiful to the world, and that’s something I’m willing to deal with. Because there’s a reward, and a lot of times there’s no reward. This is a great reward