Dev Hynes aka Lightspeed Champion aka Blood Orange released his third album Freetown Sound, under his Blood Orange alias in June this year and it's been a joy to listen to.
(Photo credit: bloodorange.nyc)
Hailing from London originally, Hynes has been based in New York for the last 10 years writing and producing his own work as well as working on a whole lot of collaborations with other artists including Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Sky Ferreira, Solange Knowles and Florence and The Machine.
Blood Orange was birthed when Hynes was on hiatus from Lightspeed Champion in 2009. Originally just a guy, a guitar and a laptop, he did a couple of shows around town and then in 2011 after seeming to have finished Lightspeed Champion, Hynes released his debut Blood Orange single “Dinner” and followed with his first full length album Coastal Grooves. In 2013 he backed it up with Cupid Deluxe, jam packed with a tonne of guest vocalists including David Longstreth (Dirty Projectors), Caroline Polachek (Chairlift), Samantha Urbani (Friends) and Adam Bainbridge (Kindness).
Freetown Sound released 2016 is a clearly personal piece. In a similar way to Kanye’s 2010 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy finale “Who Will Survive in America” and more recently Frank Ocean’s Blonde, Hynes uses spoken word to deliver some hard hitting messages and personal insight into racial and sexual injustice. He shows his vulnerability as a black man in modern society and the listener can see he is trying to come to terms with what it all means today. The album happened to be released a few weeks after the Orlando nightclub shooting and days after the baltimore police officer who drove the van in which Freddy Grey was injured in, was not found guilty of charges against him. Fittingly Hynes depiction of minorities and highlight on what it’s like to be overlooked and unappreciated are very relevant and topical. “My album is for everyone told they’re not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way … it’s a clapback,” Hynes told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview. Hynes is known for his preference of collaborations with female artists and there are no shortages of guests on this album. Nelly Furtado features on “Hadron Collider” and Debbie Harry of Blondie is excellent in “E.V.P”. Overall the album is a great mix of pop/funk/RnB which at times can feel like something from the soul era then to the 80’s and then you’re brought right back to 2016 in the here and now.
So what does Hynes do in his spare time between all his musical projects and collaborations you might ask? Well in 2013 Hynes scored the film Palo Alto by Gia Coppola. He is also a self published comic book writer titled I'm Asleep – Comics, Photographs and Illustrations to mark the release of Falling Off the Lavender Bridge. It featured photography and comics by himself, Ferry Gouw, Faris Badwan of The Horrors and Gary Card. He also contributed a short story titled "The KKK Took My Baby Away..." to the book Punk Fiction: An Anthology of Short Stories Inspired by Punk, where proceeds from the book went to the Teenage Cancer Trust. In 2010 he was set to release his first collection of short stories titled Bad Era of Me: A Collection of Short Stories by Devonté Hynes but still unknown if it was ever released to the public.
Blood Orange is not to be missed when he lands in Hong Kong for Clockenflapp in November.