2020 was a big year for Iann Dior. After a few years of steadily building up a strong fanbase, he skyrocketed to stardom with his feature on 24kGoldn’s Billboard No. 1 track, “Mood.” With his latest EP, “Still Here,” Dior is looking to affirm his status as one of the hottest young artists in the industry. He’s also using the EP as a way to give fans a preview of his in-the-works sophomore album, which he’s teased will bring back the hip-hop vibes of his 2019 debut EP, “Nothing’s Ever Good Enough,” while also incorporating the rock and pop influences of his more recent work.
Those “Nothing’s Ever Good Enough” vibes are immediately evident when listening to the two new tracks on “Still Here.” But the tracks aren’t simply a replication of the EP that had initially made a name for Dior. “Still Here” is a more mature and sonically diverse take on the heartbroken, hip-hop influences of Dior’s debut project. In a sense, it feels like Dior has gone back to his Soundcloud roots, while simultaneously integrating the sounds from his more recent catalog that set him apart as a multi-genre artist.
The first track, “Shots in the Dark,” is a perfect example of the meshing of Dior’s old and new sounds. The track’s pop-punk guitar riff from producer Omer Fedi gives “Shots in the Dark” a similar feeling to “Mood,” which isn’t surprising considering Fedi also wrote the guitar riff for the 24kGoldn duet.
Fedi’s melodic punk guitar riff is the perfect backing for “Shots in the Dark,” as it fills the track with contagious energy. Dior’s vocals match the energy of Fedi’s guitar, as he sings, “It’s crazy how fast you went from sweet to so cold / But I’ll be back again, got my medicine / I can’t go a day without that feeling and you know.”
His voice feels packed with emotion, yet effortless as he breathily cries on the stripped-down bridge, “It’s a twisted love / Nothing here could save me / Don’t feel right without you.” Lyrically, the track feels similar to the “Nothing’s Ever Good Enough” hit “Emotions,” yet sonically, “Shots in the Dark” is undoubtedly a diversion from Dior’s earlier work.
While Dior’s chorus and verse alone would be enough to make “Shots in the Dark” a megahit, it’s the track’s Trippie Redd feature that puts it in a league of its own. Redd and Dior, who previously teamed up on the 2019 emo-rap track, “Gone Girl,” complement each other’s style well. Redd brings unmatchable energy and hard-hitting bars to contrast Dior’s more pop-style vocals and emo vibes.
While “Shots in the Dark” was more of a combination of “Nothing’s Ever Good Enough” and Dior’s rock-style tracks like “Sick and Tired” and “Mood,” the second track, “Don’t Wanna Believe,” puts more of a pop spin on the vibes of his debut EP. The airy track takes the rap influence of early Dior tracks like “Who Cares” and combines them with the pop prowess Dior has developed over the two years with tracks like “Stay For A While.”
On the under-two-minute track, Dior laments the end of a relationship. He reveals the breakup caused pain for both his recent ex and himself, despite him being the one who ended things. Over a summery guitar instrumental, Dior melodically sings, “She don’t wanna believe that it ended how it did / She was stuck in a dream, thinking that it’d never end / You can blame it on me.”
On the verse, he gets deep about feelings he’s been trying to hide, saying, “So I take the long way home when I’m sad / Tryna cover it up like I’m using Maybelline / Like I don’t give a f—, leave it all behind the scenes / Acting like I’m okay, it ain’t really what it seems.” On the bridge, Dior’s voice is at his most emotional as he reveals, “It hurt way more than it should.”
“Still Here” is a testament to how much Iann Dior has grown as an artist since he released “Nothing’s Ever Good Enough” three years ago. While pieces of the 19-year-old rapper who had just moved to LA are still evident, there’s no denying that Dior has evolved as an artist. Now, at 22, Dior is reminding listeners not only is he still here, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.