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“Dark Times” Dawn For Vince Staples, But He Shines All The Same

Heady and conceptual as ever, Vince Staples' 'Dark Times' delivers another standout project in an impressive recent run.
Photo Taken from @vincestaples on IG.

Recently minting a Netflix show and once again a topic of conversation for a bevy of podcast guest spots, the career of Vince Staples remains one of the more solitary and unique ones on offer in current hip-hop. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Vince Staples project, Dark Times.

Vince Staples’ Dark Times Continues A Faux-Trilogy

Though the languid production that Vince majors in often draws comparisons to artists like Redveil or Navy Blue, the omnipresence of beachy guitar lines makes it all but singular for the Long Beach native. It should come as no surprise, then, that the same sonic atmosphere is maintained for Dark Times. While certain acts reach the point Staples has—the end of a label deal—and feel “settled into” a sound, he continues to innovate and mine at life’s biggest questions.

Speaking to Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Staples bristled against the idea that his songs are particularly “about” any topic—rather, a more stream-of-consciousness approach dominates his creative process. Indeed, on songs like “Government Cheese,” the switch in tone is enough to give you whiplash. Centered around a hook that repeats “don’t forget to smile,” the song wonders how he can enjoy his successes knowing those close to him aren’t on the same track. See the second verse: “Told him that I was good, wonder if he believed / Couldn’t tell him the truth what kind of homie would I be?”

A childhood photo of Vince Staples, posted in the lead up for his most recent project, 'Dark Times.' Taken from @vincestaples on IG.
Taken from @vincestaples on IG.

Hard Commentary Lands Atop Beachy Production

For those looking for a “Lemonade” or “Magic” on Vince Staples’ Dark Times, two of the more accessible, mainstream cuts from his previous Ramona Park Broke My Heart, you won’t be without comparable songs, but they still come with the same biting lyricism. “Étouffée” brings hard-hitting 808s and bright keys, yet belies some serious meta commentary on his career to this point.

Label tryna give me feedback, told me bring the streets back
Fans said they want 2015 Vince
Dropped Big Fish, cuh been weak since

Even amid that scattershot approach, the romantic undertones throughout the project are deserving of mention, chiefly because they’re without precedent in his previous work. Arguably the biggest embrace comes with “Justin,” a whirlwind vignette of love at first sight and immediate heartbreak that feels somehow innocent all the same. In that realm, Vince Staples’ pen on Dark Times is as evocative and vivid as ever:

The moments with her make me feel, so what’s the rush
Started talkin’ bout the future and the ever-present past
Awkward silences and laughs got me feelin’
Like we on the path to somethin’

True to its title, there’s an overwhelming restlessness on Dark Times, but those who continue to check on Staples’ projects know it’s part and parcel of the experience. Circling back to the “era” that he laid out on “Étouffée,” it feels like a perfect end cap to the run he’s been on post-2015, closing out a trilogy of projects that brought. Wherever the Long Beach native is headed, he’s amassed a cult following that’ll be in lock step towards whichever goal he sets his sights on next.

You can catch Dark Times and the full Vince Staples catalog wherever you stream your music.

The cover for Vince Staples' latest album, 'Dark Times.'
The cover for Vince Staples’ latest album, ‘Dark Times.’

Elsewhere in our coverage, Benson Boone – Bitter Things proves a breakout hit.

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