Vince Staples Finds the Light During the 'Dark Times' in Full-Bodied New Album: Review

The followup of 2022’s ‘RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART’ is here.

Music
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Vince Staples is beginning a new chapter in his career with Dark Times — his eight and final studio album under Def Jam Recordings.

Clocking in at 35 minutes, the 13-track record is a tightly-packed project filled with direct and introspective lyricism over more classic-sounding hip-hop beats. Staples effortlessly glides over production work from the likes of Cardo, Jay Versace, RAHM and more as he drops his reflections about his life as a 30-year-old who has spent the past 13 years balancing fame and his personal life. He addresses both Def Jam and his fans’ desire to bring back “2015 Vince” on the track “Étouffée” — which almost serves as fan service for those who have been waiting to hear the continuation to his debut album Summertime ‘06, but declares himself a “free man” on the aptly-titled “Freeman” cut.

His state of self-reflection peaks on this two-and-a-half-minute track as it intersects both his personal and professional life; he narrates how he doesn’t even pay attention to a hefty sum of 100K anymore despite starting off his time as an artist trying to get an advance from his label, but also recognizes himself as “just a grain of sand” in the beach of life, and he’s at peace with the idea that he can only have so much control over his life. Staples further dissects the vast difference between the life he leads with that of his peers; on “Government Cheese,” he reveals that he got hit up by a friend in jail after seeing him on ABC, but he couldn’t fully open up about the illustrious state of his life when he had a friend who only felt free during that 15-minute phone call. He then briefly dives into how the death of his older brother “humbled” him as it made him realize the fragility of our time on earth, but he transforms these lessons into a more uplifting message on “Little Homies,” a dance-inspired album highlight that repeats, “Life hard, but I go harder.”

“It’s a testament to where I am right now and how I view things—it’s just a timestamp,” Staples said in a statement. “I might not feel like that again tomorrow. But in the process of making this project, these were the things that spoke to me.”

Stream Vince Staples’ Dark Times on Spotify and Apple Music.


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