For the few that might have Blood Orange under the radar, the now senior-class work horse of musical talent shines his wings on his latest, now fourth release Negro Swan. Through the gentle, almost calming distress that comes from the instrumental glory, but also the deeper location of misery and despair that follows the lyrical ability.
While expecting something that would be a little strong to the ears, Negro Swan has the name of something that would be a misplaced and misfit within society. A swan that usually has the coat of white, now to showcase a different side of beauty with a darker, more majestic overcoat. The surprising transition from album to album, coming from Blood Orange’s strength in his own creative mind, but also in the way that record conjures up features from A$AP Rocky, Puff Daddy, Janet Mock, Ian Isiah, and even Steve Lacy to lay down some credits.
Negro Swan is entirely and deliberately produced by Devonté Hynes, Blood Orange’s non-stage name that appears heavily throughout the album. It is the subtle transitions or rather, the sudden movements that take the lifelong journey of Negro Swan into different territory. The album, which holds the keys of sixteen-total tracks is actually a twisted but beautiful display of “[My newest album is] an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color.” Not only is the album an outsider that holds its own merit on the instrumental boundary, but the album’s lyrical content is relatable and understanding of the pains of an everyday life.
With “Holy Will”, a track that describes “Lord, I just wanna be rooted and grounded in thee, Lord place me, Lord Jesus place me, I wanna be centered in thy will… Something you see and it’s all that you know to be true, something you need it’s all that I know to be true.” With the heavily string produced and soft, almost gentle ballet-esque chords, “Charcoal Baby” is a grimacing feature over the wonderful, almost angelic harmonies. “No one wants to be the odd one out at times, no one wants to be the negro swan” is described by Hynes behind the almost cracking vocal performance that moves emotional ties to the struggle of an entire country.
Blood Orange speaks to and gives a hopeful voice to the negro swans of the world, to the unable, to the looked over. His newest project Negro Swan not only becomes an investing musical venture, but becomes a social monument that proudly stands with once clipped, but now healing wings.