Album Review: Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound

Written by on June 29, 2016

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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