If you don’t know Damon Albarn, the British musician is best known for being the frontman of the rock band Blur and the co-founder, lead vocalist, instrumentalist and primary songwriter of the virtual band Gorillaz. Considering his extensive musical background, his opinions might be enough to cause a little shock, especially with the artist he described as “anti hip hop.”
However, there’s more to the statement than meets the eye, as the musician meant the comment as a compliment. How does that work out exactly? Well, first, let’s talk about the rapper he described this way.
Vince Staples is an American rapper and singer. Often known as being a part of Cutthroat Boyz and for associating and collaborating with Mike G and Earl Sweatshirt of Odd Future. He has a relatively unique and artful style, especially when considering his music videos and the overall aesthetic of his music.
Albarn said of Staples to HipHopDX, “He’s great. He’s doing something different. He’s kind of anti-hip hop, isn’t he? I like that style. I like that not buying into more of the distractive aspects of the culture.” It’s true that he has a unique sound and style, but it’s also worth saying that hip hop is all about variation and innovation—playing off the aspects of the genre that resonate and evolving with your own style, which is exactly what Staples is doing.
Albarn continues, “I was delighted to be on his album. It made me happy. We got along great. He’s a real character. I’m looking forward to hanging out with him for the next seven weeks.”
This detail is true, too, as Albarn had a hand in writing one of the songs on Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory album in 2017. The song in question is ‘Love Can Be…’, a track on which Alburn shares the lyrics credit with a few other songwriters who helped Staples write the album.
It’s amazing that they clearly had a positive experience working with one another, but it is indeed curious that Albarn would call Staples anti hip-hop, even if he did mean it as a compliment. Hip hop is a vast genre with a lot to offer, and that includes artists like Vince Staples. Regardless, it’s worth noting that he does go against the grain of a lot of the expectations of the industry, and it’s important to recognise that.
Regardless, the artists clearly have a lot of respect for one another. If you want to hear the song where they put their heads together, ‘Love Can Be…’ is linked down below.