Vince Staples' New Album "Dark Times" Is Sobering And Soulful

BYElias Andrews4.8K Views
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Vince doesn't pull any punches.

Vince Staples doesn't leave things to chance. He's a big picture emcee, and as such, every one of his albums have had a unique conceptual or musical framework. Summertime '06 was a bleak nostalgia trip, while Big Fish Theory was an attempt to predict hip-hop's sonic future. Staples strips away the window dressing on his latest release, however. The aptly-titled Dark Times is his most stripped-down release yet, and still, the rapper manages to squeeze thematic resonance out of each single track. It's not an easy listen, but it's undeniably powerful one.

The sobering, soulful framework of Dark Times is immediately established with the song "Black&Blue." The grimness of the lyrics fuse with a gorgeous Sacred Souls sample to create something akin to a West Coast riff on Wu-Tang. Think "Tearz" with more bounce. Vince Staples sounds weary as ever on cuts like "Government Cheese" and "Shame on the Devil." The latter is especially wistful thanks to the uncredited backing vocals. The rapper's previous album, Ramona Park Broke My Heart, was a similarly moody affair, but it had G-funk flourishes to keep the listener bobbing their head. There's no such entry point on Dark Times.

Vince Staples Puts The Focus On His Songwriting

Staples wants all ears to be on his songwriting. "Justin" is a showcase for the rapper's storytelling skills, while "Nothing Matters" pushes the bleakness to previously untapped levels. Dark Times is going to put off casual Staples fans (ones who are expecting something closer to his Netflix show), but it never veers too far in terms of self-indulgence. It's well thought out and economical.

There are even a couple hidden grooves like "Radio" and "Little Homies." The former sounds like it was pulled right out of Staples' self-titled album from 2021. Vince Staples is probably the closest in spirit to Dark Times: both will require patience to fully appreciate.

What are your thoughts on this brand-new album Dark Times by Vince Staples? Does it live up to the rest of the rapper's catalog? Is it his best album yet? Which song is your favorite? We would like to hear what you have to say, so be sure to leave your takes in the comments section. Additionally, always keep it locked in with HNHH for all of the latest news surrounding Vince Staples. Finally, stay with us for everything else going on around the music world.

  1. Close Your Eyes and Swing
  2. Black&Blue
  3. Government Cheese
  4. Children's Song
  5. Shame on the Devil
  6. Etouffee
  7. Liars
  8. Justin
  9. "Radio"
  10. Nothing Matters
  11. Little Homies
  12. Freeman
  13. Why Won't the Sun Come Out?
About The Author
Elias is a music writer at HotNewHipHop. He joined the site in 2024, and covers a wide range of topics, including pop culture, film, sports, and of course, hip-hop. You can find him publishing work for HNHH from Monday to Friday, especially when it comes to the coverage of new albums and singles. His favorite artists are Andre 3000, MF Doom, pre-808s Kanye West and Tyler, The Creator. He loves L.A. hip-hop but not L.A. sports teams. The first album he ever bought was Big Willie Style by Will Smith, which he maintains is still a pretty good listen.