Negro Swan is the fourth studio album by Blood Orange, an alias of British musician Dev Hynes. It was released on 24 August 2018 by Domino. The album was preceded by the singles "Charcoal Baby" and "Jewelry".
On his fourth studio album as Blood Orange, musical polymath Devonté Hynes explores the comforts and complications of living a life as both/and-of being treated, to borrow from Thelonious Monk, as an ugly beauty. Negro Swan captures the scattershot, jittery, anxious, ve feeling of what it’s like to be a marginalized person at a toxic and retrograde moment in global culture and politics. No one wants to be the Negro Swan, he laments on Charcoal Baby. Negro Swan’s world-weary opening track Orlando offers a 21st-century update on those tragic politics of deflation and depletion. Hynes’ production goes for pretty, sprightly textures: sampled street sounds, twinkling electric piano, chicken-cluck wah-wah guitar, and a mid-tempo funky shuffle beat. As if to alert us to sudden danger, a dancehall-style alarm goes off (alarms are a recurring motif on the album). Sounding like a quivering Curtis Mayfield, Hynes falsetto-croons the hook, First kiss was the floor, a blood-chilling reflection about being bullied/bashed as a child on a school bus.
Negro Swan by Blood Orange, released 24 August 2018 1. Orlando 2. Saint 3. Take Your Time 4. Hope (feat. Puff Daddy & Tei Shi) 5. Jewelry 6. Family (feat. Janet Mock) 7. Charcoal Baby 8. Vulture Baby 9. Chewing Gum (feat. Ian Isiah) 11. Dagenham Dream 12. Nappy Wonder 13. Runnin’ (feat. Georgia Anne Muldrow) 14. Out Of Your League (feat. Steve Lacy) 15. Minetta Creek 16. Smoke Producer, t, composer, songwriter and vocalist Devonte Hynes returns with his fourth album as Blood Orange, Negro Swan. Raised in England, Hynes.
The fourth Blood Orange album begins with a temperate rolling groove suited perfectly for Dev Hynes' gentle falsetto. Just as the song starts to resemble something akin to Stevie Wonder's "Power Flower" as an imagined Smokey Robinson collaboration, its refrain of "First kiss was the floor," delivered with deceptively wistful style, tugs the attentive listener into Hynes' marginalized and antagonized existence as a black male with characteristics perceived as non-masculine. These are the most graphic moments on Negro Swan, an album that otherwise is less autobiographical, with feelings of instability, comfort, optimism, self-fulfillment, and pride articulated from track to track. Negro Swan sonically is as fluid as it is fragmented, synthesizing and bounding between bedsit post-punk, desolate dream pop, chillwave-coated quiet storm, and low-profile hip-hop soul.
Blood Orange (2) – Negro Swan. Label: Domino – WIGCD421. Parental advisory warning printed on front page of booklet. Blood Orange Negro Swan" black sticker on shrinkwrap.
His new full-length album as Blood Orange is titled Negro Swan and will come out on August 24 via Domino. 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," Hynes mentions in a statement
He’s given us not just a great album, but a piece of himself that stands as a whole truth that need not be escaped, but rather, treasured.
Negro Swan was preceded by the singles Charcoal Baby and Jewelry. Steve Lacy, Ian Isiah and Georgia Anne Muldrow appear elsewhere on the record. The album is narrated by Janet Mock, a writer, TV producer, and transgender activist who currently works on the show Pose, which explores New York in the 1980s and features the largest cast of trans actors ever
Swan is the most vulnerable album in the entire Blood Orange catalog, even more so than the one that came before it. The result is an absolutely stunning venture into the nuances of anxiety, depression, and loneliness within Black/LGBT communities and how to navigate around those emotions in our 2018 world. Negro Swan feels like a companion piece to Freetown Sound - in a way that it is entirely possible to play both back to back. Sonically, Negro Swan feels more low-key and unassuming than its predecessor. Freetown Sound and 2013’s Cupid Deluxe were more groove-oriented, with a heavy emphasis.