Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples have more in common than you may think. Both are 29 year olds that grew up in coastal California cities. Both seem unhappy in being called “rappers” and often express desires to never make music again. Both have such distinct personalities which attract committed fan bases and create all sorts of internet hilarity.
While Earl’s origin story is relatively well-known (e.g. Odd Figure), Vince’s is not. Turns out, Vince’s career is largely thanks to Earl: Vince’s first rap verse ever released is his guest feature on Earl’s debut mixtape Earl, and Earl also introduced Vince to Mac Miller in 2013. Vince’s mixtape, Stolen Youth, produced by Mac under the pseudonym Larry Fisherman, put Vince on the map and in the studio with Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, and other hip-hop mainstays.
Earl and Vince’s decade-plus relationship has been fruitful and relatively prolific: outside of Odd Future members, Earl hasn’t collaborated with anyone more than Vince. The converse is almost true: Vince has more collabs with Kilo Kish, but Earl is 2nd on his list.
To celebrate these two, we’ve put together a list of their top 5 collabs below. Shout out to our friends at Audiome for putting this list together. Audiome is a tool for exploring hip-hop collaborations — you can explore Earl’s guest features, listen to Vince x Mac Miller’s collabs, and create custom Spotify playlists.
Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples – “Burgundy”
Vince has three guest features on Doris, Earl’s 2013 album, and spoiler alert: all three are on this list. It’s actually the 2nd best song on this list, but it doesn’t feel quite right calling it an Earl x Vince collab: Vince isn’t really rapping, it’s more like spoken word with a whole lot of distortion. Don’t get us wrong, it sounds great and makes the song better, but Vince is merely the supporting cast on “Burgundy.”
Domo Genesis & The Alchemist feat. Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, & Action Bronson – “Elimination Chamber”
Fresh out the oven! Earl and Vince fans rejoice! Released just days before writing this, this marks their first collaboration since 2018 (”New earlsweatshirt (Interlude),” which is barely a collab). It’s also their only “indirect” collab — a song for which neither Earl nor Vince own the song. This is exactly what the people wanted: Vince and Earl, Domo and The Alchemist, an Action Bronson verse talking about getting head while wearing flip-flops! The song itself feels a bit flat, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples – “Centurion”
Producer Christian Rich deserves an applause for what he did on “Centurion.” Vince opens the track over a laboring, blaring instrumental, and then the drums cut out, some dissonant strings enter from the shadows, and Earl emerges with them. It’s a phenomenal beat switch. Rich, Earl, and Vince synergize to create a phenomenal, eerie paranoia, the essence of Doris.
Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples – “Wool”
It’s obvious by now that Earl and Vince bring their competitive spirits out of one another, but in case you’re still not conviced, “Wool” is irrefutable proof. Vince wastes no time asserting his presence on the track, spitting 24 fierce bars that few rappers would be able to follow. Earl does what Earl does best — he raises the bar even higher, and he knows it, “What it do? Rap like I’m mincing meat Call me Lou—if I’m on the track, these niggas skip to me”
Earl Sweatshirt feat. Vince Staples – “Hive”
It’s hard to underestimate how nasty this song is. Earl’s opening two verses are the stuff of hip-hop legend: the rhyme scheme alone is beyond comprehension, and his casual ferocity is in peak form. Earl paves — demolishes, really — the way Vince to lay down one of his hardest verses to date. This isn’t just the best Earl x Vince collab, it’s one of the best hip-hop collabs of the 2010s.
Here’s a Spotify playlist with all of Earl x Vince’s collabs, generated by Audiome.