Review: Freetown Sound (Blood Orange, 2016)


By: Sparks

"My album is for everyone told they’re not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way … it’s a clapback,” Devonté Hynes, a.k.a Blood Orange, wrote on Instagram when announcing Freetown Sound.

This album is a complete inspiration to me, musically and lyrically. The lyrics are powerful, fun, and inspiring, while the music weaves through many genres, including Jazz, Classical, Pop, R&B and elements of the 80s and 90s. But one thing that is constant is Dev’s fascinating vocals; an angelic, sexy voice with a powerful, diverse range. This album is sure to get you up and dancing around (I had to restart the track “E.V.P.” twice while working on this review because I couldn’t resist dancing along).

My album is for everyone told they’re not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way … it’s a clapback

Released on June 28, 2016 (three days before its announced release date of July 1), Freetown Sound is the third studio album by Blood Orange. It opens with “By Ourselves” which uses excerpts of a spoken word performance by poet Ashlee Haze called “For Colored Girls” (below), a thundering, effective piece about representation, self-love, and the power of Missy Elliot.

Along with selections of Ashlee’s poem, Dev Hynes utilizes samples from other artists and film. On “Desirée” he uses excerpts of Paris is Burning. On "Hands Up", he uses pieces of an interview with Vince Staples. Throughout the album there is a sprinkling of artists who lend their voices and talents to make Freetown Sound the masterpiece it truly is. Features include: Nelly Furtado, Debbie Harry, Carly Rae Jepsen, BEA1991, Bryndon Cook, Lorely Rodriguez, and Kelsey Lu.

Freetown Sound is a good time. Everything you need is here: irresistible vocals, funky rhythm, a good message, food for thought, and tracks you’ll most certainly want to keep on repeat.

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For more on Ashlee Haze:

Paris is Burning is now available to stream on Netflix