Preview: Blood Orange at The Lincoln Theatre
In an era of music completely different from when they started, where hip-hop rules the charts, pop is over-saturated with 808’s and throat singers and real indie music is virtually obsolete, Blood Orange reinforce their conglomerated identity on their latest effort, “Negro Swan.” This fall, they take the album on a 13-city, North American tour.
Blood Orange is led by creative powerhouse Devonté Hynes. Like myself, Hynes is a proud first-gen of Guyanese descent. His upbringing in the suburbs of Essex, England is recalled throughout the album. On the opening track “Orlando,” Hynes details being bullied to the point where he was hospitalized. In fact, “Negro Swan” is entirely informed by the trauma Hynes and his collaborators have experienced throughout their lifetimes. It is a peek at the Black journey in a world against them, all while navigating physical, emotional, and mental instabilities. Narration from director, activist, and author Janet Mock on “Jewelry” echo this sentiment:
“...So, like, my favorite images are the ones where
Someone who isn't supposed to be there
Who's like in a space, a space where
We were not ever welcomed in, where we were not invited
Yet we walk in and we show all the way up…”
Simply put, “Negro Swan” is Blackness in audio format. On “Hope,” a personal favorite featuring indie songstress Tei Shei and music mogul Puff Daddy, Puff Daddy indecisively claims his want for love. This is a particularly moving point in the album. A historically insensitive Black man expresses a sentiment that goes beyond the stereotypical view of what society has conditioned them to believe they want: money, cars, clothes and women. To have someone of his stature who has long possessed these material aspirations reluctantly voice their desire for something more emotionally fulfilling is nothing short of revolutionary. As the album progresses, Blood Orange further explore themes of Black mental health, appropriation, and coping.
Features on this album include heavy-hitters A$AP Rocky, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Steve Lacy. The gospel-tinged “Holy Will” is opened by Blood Orange backing vocalist, Ian Isiah; footage from the tour’s first shows in Vancouver and Seattle proved he will make a lasting impression during the solo performance of this track.
Blood Orange returns to The Lincoln Theater next Friday, September 28. If you scored tickets to this sold out show, expect to hear standout tracks “Charcoal Baby,” “Jewelry” and “Chewing Gum.” The show will also introduce Tennessee’s best kept secret, Yves Tumor.