If you're a queer person navigating the world, chances are, you've picked up a vice or two. Whether those vices are coping skills for a traumatic experience or not, there's also a chance they help life feel more manageable. But for some of us, vices are behaviors informed by deeper inner demons.
New York rapper F. Virtue has never shied away from addressing the more complex sides of his life. His songs brilliantly tackle subjects ranging from queer shame, sex, and "straight" men guilty of gay posturing and appropriation ("Nowadays It's So Cool to Be Gay (I Smile With Blood In My Teeth)") to the fluidity of queer identity itself. Virtue's music remains as virtuous in its unflinching honesty as his performance moniker suggests.
He continues that theme with "The Darkness," the latest video and single premiering today on PAPER. The track is from his forthcoming album, Millennial Love During WWIII. Backed by a murky industrial beat co-produced by frequent collaborator Skinny Atlas, Virtue dives deep into his demons with attention-grabbing lyrics: "I'm not sure there's more to me than lust and darkness in my heart," and then: "Suck the sorrow out my shaft/Indulging in anything that feels good to shut out the bad."
A soulfully sung chorus by Infinite anchors the track in a sense of hope. "I need something," Infinite sings. The video, directed by Julian Buchan, shows a pensive Virtue and friends, who appear to be pondering existential concerns amid a wash of sunset and nostalgic scenery, be it a desolate road trip or the moonlit glow of a pool's nighttime reflection.
Virtue says the video and song represent a closer look back at the demons that make him. Perhaps he has overcome them; the song feels like a look from the other side of torment. "[It was made] during a dark moment in time I both accept and find light in; it's a search for growth through patterns and routines, and the power of hope," he tells PAPER.
Don't miss the premiere of F. Virtue's "The Darkness," below. Stream the single here, which includes cover artwork by rising artist Hilton Dresden.
Photography: Julian Buchan