Who Is Vince Staples? Images via Blacksmith / Brock Fetch

Going to Atlanta and Dropping Out of High School

Vince Staples: "l went to a school called Optimal Christian Academy. It was on Palmer and Long Beach Blvd. right by the fire station in Compton, and it was K through 8th grade. Once you get to 6th grade there wasn't any more room inside and we had our classes in bungalows in the back. I don't even think there were 30 people in my graduating class. That was all I needed.

"After I got out of that school, I didn't really fuck with school. I was taught right from wrong, I was taught how to be a person. When you have schools like that, the teachers are obviously really more committed than a lot of others are. So going to that school I really learned, not necessarily who I'm supposed to be, but I learned that nobody can make your choices for you. I went there from 4th grade to 8th grade and I met most of my friends there. That school was a special type of place. People that went to that school either ended up all the way good or all the way bad. I was on the way to being all the way bad, but I just ended up getting lucky.

 

People that went to that school either ended up all the way good or all the way bad and I was on the way to being all the way bad, but I just ended up getting lucky.

 

"I went to Atlanta for a while to stay at my sister's house. I was only out there for eight months at the most, but it made me not want to go to school anymore. I was over that shit. I used to do dumb shit, but seeing black ignorance on a large scale, seeing that in school all day really had me analyzing myself like, 'How the fuck do I carry myself?'

"My mom always told me there wasn't anything wrong with being smart. I would get straight A's and beat niggas up. I just felt like I wanted to be a better person after moving there because I saw the most extreme ends of the spectrum. It really got to the point where I understood racism. I understood why people don't like niggas. Atlanta had me not fucking with people or the system. That's why I'll be on my black power shit sometimes because I was really on that for a long time after coming from Atlanta. I would say, 'I ain't having people looking at me like I look at these niggas.' Then I was like, 'Why don't people look at me like they are looking at the smarter motherfuckers?'

"I went to a gang of schools. I moved back from Atlanta and I was staying at my aunt's house and I was going to school out there in La Palma. It's a city right off the 405 right near Long Beach. I went to Jordan High in Long Beach, I went to Mayfair High in Bellflower, which is like one city over. I went to Opportunity School, which is like some home schooling shit. I went to Esperanza High in Anaheim and I went to Kennedy when I first got back. I went to six or seven schools in two years.

 

I just felt like I wanted to be a better person after moving to Atlanta because I saw the most extreme ends of the spectrum. It really got to the point where I understood racism. I understood why people don't like ni**as.

 

"I wasn't going to class though. I was always late, and when I wasn't late I was getting in trouble for fighting or something. The first school I went to was Mayfair. I was going to play football and basketball at the time but my mom moved further away from school so I had to walk and I would be late. When I wasn't late, I would have to deal with the fucking Mexicans all alone, and just a bunch of bullshit.

"Eventually, I stopped going to school because I didn't feel like dealing with that. It became a headache. It went from getting used to knowing everybody at your school and having no problems—like a real family environment—to being around a bunch of people I had never met before. It was a hard transition to make.

"Also, going to a school where you learn Algebra in 7th grade and then taking that again in 9th grade, you feel like, 'Alght, these are a bunch of stupid niggas. I'm wasting my time and I'm not learning shit.' I stopped going around 10th or 11th grade. I didn't graduate. I got some other shit called a CHS. It's a test you can take. Everybody makes dumb ass decisions, and those [decisions] combined with my home life not being the most stable basically did it."

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