Everything You Need To Know About Dev Hynes' Brand New Album
The Monday after Pride weekend is usually reserved for slipping into a deep hibernation punctuated with by an occasional glass of wine or Seamless order. But this year, we were given a different kind of gift. Four days before the official drop, Dev Hynes, under his Blood Orange moniker, dropped the funk with the surprise release of his newest album, Freetown Sound. Across seventeen tracks, the British-born, Brooklyn-based artist embarks on a psychedelic journey that tackles the struggles of his own queer, black identity on waves of smooth jazz and funk-fueled synths, which adds up to one of the most danceable protest albums of the year.
What good is a protest without a little party though, right? Hynes isn’t one to shy away from collaboration, and this album is no different. Vocals from Empress Of, Nelly Furtado, Carly Rae Jepsen and a handful more mix with words from Angela Davis, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Vince Staples, and more.
The album, named after Hynes’ father’s hometown in Sierra Leone, shows the songwriter (who penned hits like Sky Ferreira’s “Everything Is Embarrassing” and Solange’s “Losing You”) bridging his pop expertise with grounded lyrics about race, sexuality, and the Black Lives Matter movement—a far cry from his 2013 record Cupid Deluxe, a burning ode to the exes he left behind. It’s a new, even more #woke chapter for Hynes and his Blood Orange persona, and we’re all better off for it. As you bob along to the beats and groove to the music, get to know the essential collaborators and influences that shaped Freetown Sound.
It’s an Album for the Outsiders Trying to Find Their Place
Alongside the iconic love symbol of the late Prince, Hynes took to his Instagram to reveal what inspired the album. In short, it’s a clapback against trying to fit into society’s box for what’s acceptable.
The Opening Track’s Monologue is by a Poet Named Ashlee Haze
You know that opening monologue about feminism that winds together Missy Elliot with biting critiques of misrepresentation in hip-hop? That comes from a searing slam poem by Atlanta-based poet Ashlee Haze. Watch the whole thing and bow down to her beautiful words. It’s incredible.
Zuri Lyric Marley, Bob Marley’s Granddaughter, Utilized Her Roots
On “Lova Ya,” Zuri collaborated with Dev to bring the roots of their culture to the forefront. “The track borrows from an Eddy Grant song and, because I’m from Jamaica I felt a kinship with his Guyanese roots,” she told us. “[My] Caribbean culture is so much more than a fire beat and some jerk chicken. We are examples of the struggle and redemption that POC experience worldwide–we are intertwined in those stories.”
Make Paris Burn Yet Again with a Venus Xtravaganza Sample
As Hynes croons on the track “Desirée” about whether anyone’s your friend, Venus Xtravaganza’s iconic speech from the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning plays. “If you want your husband to buy a washer and dryer set, I’m sure she’d have to go to bed with him, to give him something he wants, to get what she wants,” she says.
Blondie Frontwoman Debbie Harry Shows Her Love
The track “E.V.P.” serves as the newest space for the artists to sing together, but this isn’t their first rodeo. The two artists sang together last year with Patti Smith at the Tibet House Benefit Concert 2015 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. As if that weren’t badass enough, he’s also writing music for the next Blondie album, which we’re all here for.
Stay tuned to Milk for more music news.
Original imagery by Chris Thomas. Album cover by Deana Lawson. Additional image via Zimbio.