Song of the Week: Vince Staples Examines His Bruises on “Black&Blue”

Song of the Week is our weekly column that spotlights the greatest new tunes. Find these new favorites and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist, and for other great songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Vince Staples hits hard with “Black&Blue,” a cut from his new album Dark Times.


The enigmatic, always-captivating Vince Staples has returned with his newest LP, Dark Times, a soulful project that finds the rapper exploring systemic inequality and detailing stories of personal growth. Throughout Dark Times, Staples’s pen is sharp and his beat selection is second to none, a standard quickly set by the excellent album opener, “Black&Blue.”

After the wind chimes and ambiance of the record’s intro, “Close Your Eyes and Swing,” “Black&Blue” wakes the listener up with a hard-as-hell drum beat and a repeated piano note, both sampled from Thee Sacred Soul’s “Weak for Your Love.” As Staples enters, the beat continues to develop, becoming increasingly dreamy with the addition of syrupy guitars and buckets of delay.

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Staples uses this soundscape to examine the systems in which he was brought up, taking shots at Reaganomics and wondering where it all leads to along the way. “Maybe we livin’ haram, can’t go to prom, send me a prayer up/ To the Heavens above, is it a mansion for thugs?,” he raps. “Where did Tupac and ’em go? Where Nipsey Hus’ and ’em go?/ Swavey and Drakeo? Ricche and Slim Foe?”

As if the lyrics and beat didn’t already combine for a compelling enough listen, the insanely catchy chorus kicks in to wrap the whole thing in a big black and blue bow. It’s an incredible setup for Dark Times, and by the time the album closes out, “Black&Blue” makes you want to take it right back from the top.

Jonah Krueger
Editorial Assistant


Music

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