In Living Colour: Blood Orange
PHOTO VIA @DEVHYNES/INSTAGRAM
The blood orange hides its crimson fleshed center with a fiery orange skin. At first glance, she’s that familiar citrus fruit found in public school cafeterias and doctor’s waiting rooms. Common. But when you thrust your thumb into her skin she begins to ooze a deep red. The intense aroma invites you for a bite and you discover it too is living. Beaming. Bleeding.
To some, Blood Orange, the moniker of wunderkind Devonté Hynes, is just another black boy from East London making weird music. Synth sounds, bare instrumentation, and textbook definition “chill” vibes fuel the juice of his particular style. But make no mistake, you know not who Hynes is until you pull the skin back.
For Hynes’ latest Blood Orange project, Negro Swan, he perfectly captures this sort of depressive feeling of knowing the power your melanin holds while also existing in spaces— white, hetero spaces— that want nothing to do with the Negro. No one wants to be the Negro Swan. Yet, what an honor it is to be the Negro Swan. Hynes has managed to create these worlds where the Negro is God. His presence is both fond and embracing. Hynes has utilized an array of warm browns as the base of many of his music videos, providing an immediate sense of familiarity and foundation. He has crafted a comfort. You may not know what box to place Blood Orange in sonically, but know the Negro Swan must indeed fly.
Transcendance + Acceptance
This angelic figure basks in his glory. The pure white of the silky, the shirt, and the wings themselves act as a nice contrast against this sort of neutral back drop of warm browns and greens. The audience is forced to come face to face with the archangel, the possible representation of the Negro Swan. He fills the frame as he hangs out of the hooptie demanding that all that come across his path take notice of his power. Contrasted again with the grace of his form, a sense of healing is also communicated. The pale yellow captions provide the audience with a landing place for their eyes.
Community + Togetherness
Hynes presents two rather striking images of himself. On the left we see him utilize this sort of warm, muted color palette. A dusty mustard acts as a rather soothing resting place for the eyes. It’s warm, but not overwhelmingly so. On the right we get a much more brooding reflection of Hynes. He’s almost hard to see. The deep red lights bounce off of his brown skin and create this sort of halo around his silhouette. We watch as Hynes explores two sides of himself one a bit more moody than the other and yet both shots still use quite warm tones so while their imagery is different, there is a sense that both versions belong next to one another. The sort of analogous color palette reinforces these ideas.
Exploration + Vulnerability
We watch as Hynes + Rocky ride four wheelers in matching silkies. As the dusty rose and powder blue satin fabrics wraps themselves around earth colored torsos, the viewer is left to match that vulnerability. A bit introspective, if you will. There’s a softness— a femininity in each shot even as the two men do donuts in the dirt. “Tell me what you want from me,” Hynes croons as he drives around in search of something more. The shots are quite cloudy. It’s as if the videographer took Vaseline and smeared it all over the lens. Which, in this case, acts as a sort of light diffuser creating this dream world where you can spend your days creating and loving.
Sensual + Harmonious
The two keyboards form a triangular framework naturally drawing the eye to the center of the frame— the focal point being Dev himself. Hynes provides a sort of harmonious color palette that is both sensual and regal. Pops of brown and ripe berry colors emphasize the sort of natural, down-to-earth, on-the-regular vibes of the jam session.
Comfort can be captured in each of the five senses. Hynes makes it a priority to invite you through his Freetown sound and celebrates with all who choose to take part in the rhythm. We hope when the angel in the hooptie comes to town, you hitch a ride back to heaven with him.
Special thanks to tribe members Briana Atkins + Gam LaFrance for the edits x