As the powerful words of Ashlee Haze echoed through a sold-out venue last Saturday night, the audience could hardly contain their excitement for the extraordinary hour that was ahead of them. Haze’s poem “For Colored Girls” speaks to her experiences discovering her identity as a black female living in modern day society. The piece is the first of numerous influential works sampled on Dev Hynes’ latest record, Freetown Sound. Hynes’ third release under the alias Blood Orange captures raw, human emotion in a poetically honest fashion. The skillfully curated record tells stories of oppression, adversity, unjust realities, and the human condition. Hynes has mastered the art of collage through the composition of Freetown Sound; complete with harmonious vocals, beautiful words, and an array of instruments, the record provides the listener with a thought-provoking, emotional narrative.
10/06/16 – NEW YORK, NEW YORK
That night, it was evident that the anticipation of Dev Hynes’ long-awaited appearance was becoming unbearable. As enthusiastic fans grooved to the opening DJ set and fervently discussed what was to come, a voice spoke into the microphone. The audience fell silent when Ashlee Haze stepped forward and proceeded to recite her poem. “A brief history of womanhood in hip hop, or, your favorite could never, or, for colored girls who don’t need Katy Perry when Missy Elliot is enough,” she began. Cheers of love and support reverberated off the walls of the crowded venue as Haze spoke in Missy Elliot’s honor—this was only the beginning of a magical, multifaceted experience.
Terminal 5 was ablaze with colorful visuals and shifting emotions as Dev Hynes displayed his growth as an artist. His personal evolution, as well as the evolution of Blood Orange’s sound, was showcased through an impressive variety of artistic mediums. The employment of song, dance, poetry, and multiple collaborations allowed Hynes to facilitate an unforgettable performance of Freetown Sound. He even left room for reminiscing—a handful of songs from his previous record, Cupid Deluxe, were incorporated into the setlist, including the beloved “It Is What It Is.” From funky R&B jams to heartfelt ballads, the audience was able to relish in every last bit of zest that Blood Orange’s music brings to the table.
Above all, the gift of vision was given to the crowd that evening. Through Dev Hynes’ insightful lens, an opportunity to see the world from another perspective was presented. In this way, Hynes continues to influence those who listen to his music, just as Missy Elliott’s contagious rhythm once influenced a young Ashlee Haze.