Album Review: Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound

Freetown Sound, Devonte Hynes’ latest project under Blood Orange, was released yesterday following his critically acclaimed 2013 record Cupid Deluxe. The record, like Cupid Deluxe, is a complex combination of R&B, Jazz, and stylized eighties Synth Pop yet lyrically, it is quite a straightforward dialogue on black and queer identity/experience that begins with poet Angel Haze’s reading of her poem “For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliot Poem).”

(“I will show you a 26-year-old woman who learned to dance until she felt pretty/ Feminism wears a throwback jersey, bamboo earrings, and a face beat for the gods/ Feminism is Missy, Lil Kim, and Angie Martinez on the ‘Not Tonight’ track/ Feminism says as a woman in my arena you are not my competition/ As a woman in my arena your light doesn’t make mine any dimmer.”)

In Freetown Sound audio samples feel like layers being added to the dialogue on experience and identity – every layer a piece of history shaping Hyne’s own identity and artistry. In “Desirée,” a three-minute disco track, Hynes samples lines from Paris Is Burning, a 1990 documentary on New York queer and transgender ballroom subculture while “With Him” features sampled dialogue from Marlon Rigg’s Black Is…Black Ain’t, a documentary exploring the diversity of black identities, and “Hands Up” ends with audio from a #BlackLivesMatter protest. (“Hands up! Don’t shoot!”)

Buy Freetown Sound on iTunes here.

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