#HHCLA | Choppin’ it up in LA with Toronto’s Vince the Barber [Interview]
Los Angeles, CA – Summertime is here and everyone is taking the steps needed to feel good about themselves, whether it be going to the gym or eating a bit healthier. When it comes to hair though, it’s more of a consistent issue, regardless of the weather that comes with the changing seasons. I joined HipHopCanada-LA Editor, Sina Tash, on his bi-weekly barbershop visit, pulling up to Capsule LA on the east side of Melrose Avenue.
Upon approaching the place, Capsule LA didn’t feel like your ordinary barbershop. I’ve accompanied a couple guy friends for their fresh fades before and this place was nothing like the ones I’ve been too. It was a cross between a barbershop and a man cave, with sports channels on all three TVs, and it was a true hip-hop base with all the classics coming out from the speakers. There, among good vibes and great people, we got to sit down with Toronto native Vince the Barber. Check the Q&A with Vince after the jump.
Vince the Barber: Q&A
HipHopCanada: Tell us a little about yourself, who is Vince the Barber?
Vince the Barber: I’m a kid born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I moved out to LA not too long ago from Toronto, I’ve lived there for most of my life. I’m here now in Los Angeles doing what I’m supposed to do, which is cutting hair. I’m a barber, I’ve been cutting hair for about… going on eight years now. It started off as a hobby at first and now it’s pretty much… I wouldn’t really say it’s my job because it’s still kind of like my hobby, I love doing this. I love making people look fresh and making them feel good through that. It’s more of a… a kind of lifestyle to me.
HipHopCanada: What made you make the transition, moving to LA from Toronto? Was it a dream of yours to open up a shop out here or…
Vince the Barber: I just always wanted step out of my comfort zone and try to see if I can make it anywhere else. Cutting hair for a few years, back in Toronto, I just kind of felt bad. There weren’t many opportunities out there. Just seeing all my homies grow up and doing what they love to do–they’re all in the industry now, working with all these artists and NBA players, all these celebrities… Seeing that made me think “Damn, maybe I can do the same thing as a barber!”
HipHopCanada: Saying that, I know you’re definitely networking out here, would you say that you’re a ‘celebrity barber’?
Vince the Barber: I’m trying to get there, you know! That’s the goal. Ever since I moved out here–it’s been two years now since I’ve been out in LA. I learned that out here, it’s all about networking. My first clientele when I came out here were the New Boyz, and from them I met Chris Brown, Ray J, Nick Cannon, just a bunch of other artists in the industry. And, you know, it’s a cool thing because coming from Toronto, you don’t really get that, you don’t really get people coming in and out in Toronto. I mean, you do, but, it’s kind of hard to get that opportunity to actually just chop it up and meet them, trying to pitch to them what you do and what you can do for them. It was a big thing for me to get them as my first clientele and since then I knew that the sky was my limit and all I did was pretty much go to all the industry parties, anywhere I could find anyone to add to my clientele list. I’m still on the mission to become that LA barber.
HipHopCanada: What differentiates you from other barbers?
Vince the Barber: Um, I think–I don’t know. I mean, out here, it’s different. The barber game in Toronto, the East Coast in general compared to the West Coast… I just see a lot more hunger in the East Coast. Out here, it’s more laid-back and chill. You go to a barbershop and you pretty much stay grounded with it. I think what makes me different from everyone else is just that strive, always wanting more than what I have.
HipHopCanada: Canadian hunger.
Vince the Barber: Yeah, exactly. From all the other homies I know back in Toronto, they’re all doing something, they’re all striving for their dreams and goals. Seeing them do that just motivates me to do more.
Vince the Barber with Drake in Beverly Hills
HipHopCanada: Now, let’s get into the music. Who are you listening to right now?
Vince the Barber: Well, obviously, I’ve been listening to the homie Drake. And, me being from Toronto and trying to put cats in LA on Toronto music–a lot of my homies back home are artists like Rich Kidd, Blake Carrington… too many to name, they’re all out there doing their thing. Not a lot of people know that Toronto is really into their music, the music culture there is a lot bigger, I feel it’s a lot bigger and a lot more well-respected than it is out here in the West.
HipHopCanada: Who is your top five, dead or alive?
Vince the Barber: Top five, oh man, that’s tough. I’d have to say Tupac…order-wise, I don’t know–
HipHopCanada: It doesn’t have to be in a particular order.
Vince the Barber: Nice, I’d have to say Tupac, Biggie, Big L, Jay-Z and Nas.
HipHopCanada: Jay-Z or Nas?
Vince the Barber: Ooh…
HipHopCanada: I hope you have the same answer as me, right now…
Vince the Barber: [Laughing] Um… that’s a big one, man.
HipHopCanada: I know, they’re two different styles, just like Tupac and Biggie. I feel like it’s hard to choose between the two since they’re so different but, if you had to choose one right now, who would it be?
Vince the Barber: Jay-Z or Nas? I’m gonna have to go with Nas.
HipHopCanada: Even though Jigga won! [Laughing]
Vince the Barber: Yeah. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: Who are some Canadian artists that you feel are doing it big in the country?
Vince the Barber: Like I mentioned earlier, Blake [Carrington]… I’ve known Blake for a while, a few years, and just seeing him blow up and seeing him grow to where he is now is just… inspiring. Along with Rich Kidd, I’ve known him for a few years too and seeing him in the studio just making beats and now he’s actually getting his own music out there as an MC… These guys are putting on to a lot of younger rappers that are trying to get out there and they’re doing more than just rapping. They’re producing, they’re songwriting… you know, they’re putting a good name out there for Toronto, honestly, which is a good look for us.
Vince the Barber with Toronto’s A-Game at Capsule LA
HipHopCanada: What do you feel about the state of the hip-hop industry in Toronto?
Vince the Barber: It’s big, man. We have different things that go on there throughout the years, for example Manifesto, shoutout to the homies that are running that. There’s OVO Fest. There’s a lot of things, like I said, I tell everyone out here how much Toronto is well into their music and how the music culture out there is a lot bigger than what most people think. To see that and to know that I’m from that city makes me even more big.
HipHopCanada: What advice can you give to somebody who’s on their way up, or paying their dues?
Vince the Barber: As an artist?
HipHopCanada: As an artist, a barber, someone who’s chasing their dreams.
Vince the Barber: I say just do it, man. You only live once and you never know unless you try. I did it, I didn’t think I was able to do it, you know? I came out here just… trying it out, picked up and leave and start brand new, see if I can make it anywhere else. You just gotta do it, you gotta step out of your comfort zone and just show yourself and show the people who doubted you that anything is possible and you can make it. I learned out here that it’s not all about the money, you know. I came out here giving up so much I had back in Toronto and I learned that I can get so much further and accomplish all my dreams without even making as much as I was making back home. The sky’s the limit, anything is possible as long as you keep your mind to it and just stay focused, stay positive.
HipHopCanada: I’m going to give you some words, tell me what the first thought that pops into your head. If you can, try to keep it as few words as possible. Dream.
Vince the Barber: Bold.
Vince the Barber: Toronto.
Vince the Barber: My home.
Vince the Barber: Life.
Vince the Barber: Life.
HipHopCanada: Would you like to leave any last words for our readers?
Vince the Barber: Coming from a small city and coming out to an even bigger city, anything is possible. If you have a nine-to-five job and you’re not even doing what you love to do and you’re just working for the money, I say drop that shit. Chase your dreams. Don’t listen to anyone who doubts you, because you don’t even know for yourself if you’re going to fail or succeed. Be positive and keep going, man. Anything is possible.
Vince also hosts an open mic every second Wednesday of the month over at Capsule LA, where locals can showcase their talent. The event is a very successful one and there has been an overflow of people, turning the barbershop into a venue for a small and very intimate show.
Written by Hannah Renee for HipHopCanada
Photography by Hannah Renee for HipHopCanada
Get cut by Vince The Barber at Capsule LA
4304 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Mon – Wed – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thu – Sat – 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.