Willy Staley – "Canadians Are Weirdos" [NYT Magazine Interview]
The rap collective you’re a member of, Odd Future, became famous very rapidly after you were sent by your mother to a school for troubled youth in Samoa. Did missing out on that success further your resolve to sort through the behavior issues that got you there?
Hell, no. Not initially, and not the way that Odd Future was coming out — it was like a temper tantrum. It was perfect. But throwing a temper tantrum in a residential treatment facility is so much less cool than throwing a temper tantrum on TV.
While you were in Samoa, your whereabouts were pieced together by fans and bloggers. Did it make you worry about how much information is available online?
One day I hope to not have a Twitter, to be sick enough that I don’t have to use the Internet. But since we came up online, I have to be online. Twitter is a real addiction, like the color of it, the process of it.
You were just in Toronto. How was that?
It was crazy. Canadians are weirdos, though. They are so nice — overbearing nice, like grandmother nice. Toronto is like a city of grandmas.
The rapper Drake is from Toronto. Is he grandma nice?
Dude, Drake is grandma nice. He was at Frank Ocean’s show in L.A. and got into an argument with Tyler, the Creator’s mom. I left and came back in the room, and she was apologizing to him for how she came at him, and he was saying: “It’s all love. I love you, Mom. I love moms.” Drake loves moms.
Your mother is a law professor at U.C.L.A. Does she ever pressure you to go to law school or anything?
No. My mom’s down for what I’m doing now that she knows I’m not unraveling. When she sent me to Samoa, it wasn’t like, “No rap music!,” you know what I mean? I didn’t get thrown in the cellar for swearing.
Rick Ross was dropped from Reebok because of a lyric about date rape on “U.O.E.N.O.” Odd Future’s music often crosses similar lines.
Rick Ross! If he was everything that he rapped about, he’d be the worst coke-dealing mass murderer ever. People got mad because he said something bad on a cool song. That was ridiculous on Reebok’s part. You picked up Rick Ross, he’s cocaine — that’s what his entire career is.
Your parents gave you the middle name Neruda after Pablo Neruda. You can see why people are curious.
Yeah, it just happens to be that people like to associate poetry and rap music. I think that idea is kind of corny. I think rap music is rap music. I mean, are there heavy writing aspects of it? Absolutely. In a sense is it poetry? Yeah. I’ve heard that so much, growing up in a house with poetry. But I think people like to use that as a shortcut for who’s good and who’s not. It’s like the word “lyrical” — “lyrical” is the worst word in the entire world.
So it’s not a shocking concept that rap could be poetry.
It’s actually so familiar that it’s annoying.
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