As we get older, we look for people we can relate to, gain inspiration from and flat-out admire. Most of the people I deem worthy of admiration come from their ability to touch my soul with their music, make me dance or let out emotions I thought no one else understood. At seventeen years old, I thought my music catalog was already top-notch. I thought I had somehow done all that needed to be done for my ears and that there was no way my music catalog could grow beyond what I had already built. Then, out of thin air, Devonte Hynes, commonly known as Blood Orange, would elevate my catalog to heights I thought couldn’t be reached.
Up until 2018, I did not know who Blood Orange was. At the time of my great discovery, I was really into Brockhampton and was repeatedly playing Playboi Carti’s album Die Lit. While scrolling through Instagram, I saw this weird and eye-catching album cover. The cover had a person hanging out the passenger window with white wings on their back and was titled Negro Swan, and this would spark my journey into Blood Orange’s discography. With my little wired headphones that I stole from my brother (thank you, Jace), I began my life-changing music experience. From the very first song, I was hooked. I had already listened to the album while in class, but that day I wanted to hear nothing else but this album.
Songs such as “Orlando,” “Hope,” “Charcoal Baby” and “Chewing Gum” made me elevate as if I were being lifted off the ground and taken into this world of captivating instrumentals and angelic vocals. My personal favorite song from Negro Swan is “Family,” which features Janet Mock. Those 42 seconds are what made me a true fan. In the song, Janet talks about the meaning of family and how a family is a community, a space where you do not have to be someone else and can completely be yourself, and you choose your family; you do not have to call others family just because of family ties. This topic hits home for me. I get to choose the people I spend my time with, and I should not have to compromise who I am to be around people I deem friends and family.
For those fifty minutes and across 16 songs, I knew that Blood Orange would be sticking around in my music rotation. Just that next year, I would be fortunate enough to see him in concert with Tyler, The Creator, and get to experience most of the songs in person. The man behind the music is Devonte Hynes. Seeing someone who looks like me make music that is outside of the norm and truly live the life they want has inspired me to create my own path and live a life that I would be proud of. Thank you, Devonte Hynes, for not only making music but also being someone I can admire.
Written by: Danielle De Lucia