Blood Orange - 'Negro Swan'

8/10

Despite all the projects and incarnations Dev Hynes has been over the years, his current state of mind has led to his greatest work of his career so far. While his last album under the name Blood Orange, 'Freetown Sound', saw him adopting a more style towards his black heritage, he returns with his most politically-minded record to date as he explores the troubling world in which black people and the LBGT community are forced to live, while managing to pay homage to the musical influences of his past.

Similar to what Kendrick Lamar did on 'To Pimp A Butterfly', 'Negro Swan' is partly a callback to the nostalgic ideals of RnB and hip-hop, while also sending a strong message about the state of multiculturalism in the modern world. Opening with the bubbly 'Orlando', a track that looks to see us focus on the devastating nightclub shooting some years ago, the record then moves through various guises and influences, adopting elements of jazz, soul and RnB to produce a solid collection of ideas that all manage to gel incredibly well with one another.

While his Blood Orange project has always tried to push the envelope in places, 'Negro Swan' seems more concerned about its ideals than musical evolution, making for his most succinct release to date. It is a soulful and memorable album that shows that Hynes has now truly found his voice and place in the world.

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