Sprite is more than a soft drink: It’s a lifestyle. Vince Staples, the newly popular 22-year-old rapper, wants you to know that.
Sprite has a decades-long relationship with hip-hop, which crystallized in 1994 with the launch of the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign. Over 20 years have passed since then, but Sprite hasn’t abandoned hip-hop. In fact, the brand recently published a series of documentaries featuring some of the greatest contemporary rappers: Drake, Nas, Isaiah Rashad, and Vince Staples.
Staples joined the “Obey Your Thirst” campaign about six months ago. Over the past few months, he’s been tweeting (ridiculously) about Sprite, rapping about Sprite, and now has spoken to us about Sprite—he has become brand spokesperson to the point of parody. But make no mistake, he’s no corporate shill: He just loves Sprite, and he’s having fun being their spokesperson.
And with tweets like this, he might just be the most interesting influencer in the world.
We recently sat down with Staples, and discussed everything from the spiritual experience of Sprite, to what determines whether he’ll work with a brand, to Sprite’s “uncorny” brand message.
You’ve said that having a voice makes everything that you’re doing worth it. Has Sprite helped you develop that voice?
Sprite is cool. Sprite helps everything. It’s the perfect situation, the perfect lifestyle choice for me. It’s very organic, very natural, and we just added lemon and lime.
Why did you want to work for Sprite?
Because I just like Sprite? Sprite always has good ads. I remember Thirst […] and then we have Sprite Remix. I don’t know. I just like Sprite.
What does the brand represent to you? In the short documentaries, Drake, Nas, and Isaiah Rashad speak about the spiritual aspect of Sprite. Could you talk about that?
Sprite is a very spiritual experience. I think it’s a good campaign. It’s a good soul. We have a lot of people that follow others, not necessarily being true to themselves and being who they’re supposed to be, so I feel like the campaign itself, when you’re talking about kids, kind of what I see is a struggle among children and young people in general, so, “Obey Your Thirst”… That’s the message.
What’s your rule for the brands you decide to work with?
It has to make sense, and again, it’s pretty corny, I say no to a lot of things. It has to make sense. We’re not trying to grab for any money or attention or things like that. That’s not worth the money.
Your music also falls in line with that school of thought. You don’t rap often about money, violence, and your rough childhood because you find it corny and you are drawn to Sprite because it’s not corny too. Is that correct?
You mean the money and the violence and stuff? That gets me to jail, and I don’t want a case from ten years ago to be popped up. It’s just not important, man. Everyone’s trying to prove they’re tough. I don’t feel the need to do any of that, you know. It doesn’t matter on a global scale, so it just depends on who you’re trying to reach. I can understand why some people do that.
I think it’s corny. All these rappers just doing things that aren’t necessarily, aren’t them, you know? Every single rapper sells cocaine and a lot of it, but I don’t get it. That’s just not me.
Do you know how many times you were originally contractually obligated to post about Sprite?
I don’t know, but I probably surpassed that by at least a hundred tweets. I probably fulfilled the contract before the contract was signed.
When you tweet about Sprite, do you do it with the mindset of sponsoring it, or are you making a joke of the idea of what being a “sponsored rep” entails?
I don’t ever go with anything thinking of marketing. Sprite is just within me sometimes, you know what I mean? You’ve definitely got to have fun with it. There are a bunch of kids following me on Twitter. Let’s have fun. Those are the people buying Sprite. The very serious people probably aren’t drinking Sprite, they’re probably on a nice fresh juice diet or something like that right now. I’m sorry, why not have fun?
What inspired you to start including Sprite-themed lyrics in your song, like in “Norf Norf”?
I wrote that song before we got the contract.
How much soda do you drink on an average day?
Not a lot. I’m trying to get my health in order, but I probably have a Sprite or two. I’m trying to cut back though.
I don’t think of Sprite as a soda. Sprite is part of an everyday lifestyle. Sprite is like a vitamin, sometimes you’ve got to take it daily. That’s just what it is.
This interview has been edited and condensed.