Still from “Augustine” video
Blood Orange, aka Dev Hynes, has caught everybody off guard by surprise releasing his upcoming album Freetown Sound. Freetown Sound melds together Hynes’ complex musical history into his magnum opus, providing a stylish blend of R&B and Prince-esque bravado with unwavering political commentaries on black masculinity, gender roles, and inequality. Regarding the message of his album, Hynes stated on Instagram that “My album is for everyone told they’re not BLACK enough, too BLACK, too QUEER, not QUEER the right way, the underappreciated.”
The album features collaborations with Nelly Futurado, Carly Rae Jepsen, Porches, Debby Harry, and more. Throughout the album, Hynes tries to initiate a callback to an era where New York art and culture wasn’t as “professionalized”, in what can be seen as a push-back against what Hynes sees as the gentrification of his beloved city. The video for the single “Augustine” can be viewed below.
The video puts an androgynously dressed Hynes dancing and singing on New York rooftops, at a piano, on the top of a car, and with a group of dancers. Hynes also appears in front of a painting of the flag of Sierra Leone. Freetown is the capital of Sierra Leone, and is where Hynes’ father was born. The colors of the video are muted, highlighting the sunset in the New York skyline, all spliced in under a layer of film grain, giving the video a retro feel. Hynes himself directed and edited the video. The track itself combines shuffling, clapping percussion with a minimalist bass-line and synthesizer riff. After the intro, the entire background instrumentation overhauls itself with punchy, upbeat drums, guitar riffs, and ethereal singing from Hynes. The political revamp of R&B that Hynes is doing is very interesting, as it brings unheard of topics to a genre that is typically centered around sensuality.
Freetown Sound is available now from major music resources.