Devonté Hynes aka Blood Orange has been vocal about his thoughts on racial violence and inequality in America. Last August, he took to Twitter to report that Lollapalooza security guards had assaulted him and his girlfriend Samantha Urbani after he had given a speech on racism and police brutality. In October, he wore a handmade “Black Lives Matter” shirt to his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel.
Yesterday, he shared a track titled “Do You See My Skin Through The Flames” and posted a Facebook message expressing the conflicts he grapples with both externally and internally.
The 11-minute track is a collection of instrumentation, singing, a voicemail recording from the artist Talwst, and spoken word. He discusses injustice, the feeling of isolation during an act of violence and its aftermath, and double-consciousness.
During the song, Hynes talks about the origins of his name, which comes from an Irish name meaning servant. “I’m proud of my name, I’m proud of my dad, I’m proud of my family, but it’s very strange to have to carry that everyday. We all carry that. Every black person carries that.”
He also delves into his complicated relationship with racial identity and mentions a James Baldwin interview about writing Notes of a Native Son. “He was growing up, rejecting his image that was painted of him…So he had to essentially go back, deconstruct all of that, and learn to speak for the first time. I feel like I’m having to speak again in my late twenties.” Though Hynes has stated that this track will not appear on his upcoming third LP, perhaps it can give us some insight on Hynes’ future artistic aims. If this heartfelt track is any indication, it’ll come from very powerful and emotional source.
Read some of the lyrics and stream the track below:
frustration and depression breaks me down
descending like they wanted underground
the further our journey the less you care
that’s why you laugh at Kanye when he’s talking in a chair
but the same conversation but replaced,
is good enough for laughs or a smile on your face,
happy to be singing all our songs to survive,
but when we need help, you don’t get off til 5.
it’s powerful to feel so alone in a group
let me break this down for you and tell you how we feel again,
your fear is all you hold on to, so when you see me it’s not fair
i have nothing left to give when you don’t notice what is wrong,
Charleston left me broken down but it’s just another day to you
i ain’t got nothing left to give you
and i’m too tired, to even talk about it
while watching the fire,
tasting pain coming from a place of truth
to be another in a messy world
to feel like giving in another turn?
you wouldn’t listen if i told you
so how can i become anyone?