Blood Orange Strikes a Chord on Social Issues with Freetown Sound
Dev Hynes of Blood Orange recently released his latest album. Hynes incorporates several different styles in to his music, and his album ‘Freetown Sound’ has appealed to supports of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as with those who sympathize with the cause. (Photo provided by Wikipedia.)
On June 27, Dev Hynes surprised the world with the early release of his third album, “Freetown Sound.” The release of the album sparked interest from fans for its synthetic and urban 80s aesthetic, but made a lasting impact at a time when the nation needed it the most.
Behind his Michael Jackson-esque beats and 80s pop image, the London-born singer and producer known as Blood Orange struck a chord on national social issues with “Freetown Sound” that could stand as strong as Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.”
“Freetown Sound,” complex beyond measure and ahead of its time in almost every aspect, challenges listeners to dig deeper in order to understand the ideology. Through production, visuals, subliminal messages and quotable, poetic lyrics, “Freetown Sound” could possibly be one of the greatest albums of the summer.
— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) June 28, 2016
Early hiphop beats incorporated with a smooth jazz paint the scene of a romanticized late-20th century, New York City streetscape. The synthesized, angelic vocals of Blood Orange accompanied by complex track mixing illustrates an optimistic glow that gives a nostalgic Phil Collins and Michael Jackson kind of vibe to the new-age pop scene.
The sound is unique and unlike anything else on the market, but it’s still so very familiar.
The visuals in Blood Orange’s “Augustine” video display a romantic relationship between the artist and his city while describing the story of Hynes’ father leaving Freetown, the capital of Africa’s Sierra Leone. “Freetown Sound” incorporates Sierra Leone influences as an homage to his father’s origins, but cleverly contrasts that with Hynes’ fascination for New York City.
In an interview leading up to the release of his album, Hynes said,”Freetown, Sierra Leone. A town founded… it was basically a town where freed slaves were sent to live a comfy, Christian life. That’s where my dad is from. Born there 1939.”
Incorporated heavy amounts of randomized sampling and instrumental jazz breaks, “Freetown Sound” is entertaining from start to finish; Featuring artists like Nelly Furtado, Ava Raiin, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Zuri Marley are just the cherry on top.
As the Black Lives Matter movement reaches new heights and social issues continue to expand the divide in our nation, “Freetown Sound” dishes a fresh perspective on racial relations, homosexuality, police brutality, and inequality.
A known advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement in the past, Hynes mixes his catchy, smooth tracks with topical, deep sampling. The samples parallel Hynes as a young, black immigrant trying to find acceptance in a new world with that of a struggling black America still fighting for acceptance in a country they call home.
By sampling early 80s-90s material, Blood Orange compares the oppression experienced decades ago to the same struggles taking place in 2016. For instance, in “Chance,” Hynes samples the 1989 Boogie Down Production’s “What is That?”
“Hands Up,” the song which is probably most blunt with its messaging, covers issues regarding police brutality.
Are you sleeping with the lights on baby? (Hands up, get up, hands up, get up)
Keep you hood off when you’re walking cause they (Hands up, get up, hands up, get up)
Trying not to be obsessed with your heyday (Hands up, get up, hands up, get up)
Sure enough they’re gonna take your body (Hands up, get up, hands up, get up)
Feminism and racial representation, two societal issues often pushed to the side, are seen through the of eyes of slam poet Ashlee Haze in “By Ourselves.”
If you ask me why representation is important
I will tell you that on the day I don’t feel pretty
I hear the sweet voice of Missy singing to me
Pop that pop that, jiggle that fat
Don’t stop, get it ’til you clothes get wet
I will tell you that right now there are a million black girls
just waiting to see someone who looks like them
On the subject of his message in a recent interview, Hynes said, “One thing that’s interesting is that with this record, it’s not like a manifesto or telling people how they should be, it’s not preachy, but it’s more of a case of, which I think my favorite writers do, ‘This is how I feel. This is just my thoughts and how I am. You can listen to that if you want to. If you don’t want to, you can just maybe enjoy how me saying how I feel sounds.’”