Dev Hynes could quite possibly be the closest pure embodiment of “cool” we’ve seen in the past decade. Not since 2003, when Andre Benjamin (aka “Andre 3000”) uttered that fateful line, “What’s cooler than being cool?”, has someone been so undeniably calm, collected, and identifiably confident in their craft as Hynes.
Granted, it might be a little hasty to assert that Hynes, as Blood Orange, has usurped Three Stacks entirely - but for a certain generation whose contextual familiarity with someone of Andre Benjamin’s ilk may only be his turn as Tcherny in the highly anticipated astronaut drama High Life, there may have never been a debate.
Dev Hynes has managed to seamlessly reroute what popular music sounds like, diverting it from bright, airy sheens of pleasure principles to more hedonistic, epicurean, and dynamic fever dreams. Point and case, the exceptional “Everything is Embarrassing” by Sky Ferreira, one of the best, most fiery pop songs of the past decade, which just so happens to be produced by Hynes.
But we’re not necessarily here to focus on Hynes’ hand in rewriting the narrative of how popular music sounds through the likes of Ferreira, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Carly Rae Jepsen, and A$AP Rocky; we’re focusing on Blood Orange. Last year saw Blood Orange release one of the project’s finest cuts to date, Negro Swan. The record operates like a stage play, a sort of sordid, subversive to New York and culture, through the lens of Hynes’ deep grooves and finesse. Not to mention, it touts a haymaker of a features, including Diddy, Project Pat, A$AP, and Steve Lacy. It’s as close to a masterpiece as Hynes as has come (to this point).
Negro Swan has been out since August of 2018, so a Blood Orange Nashville stop was definitely a little overdue, but at the same time, Nashville is finicky. So the extended time with Negro Swan for Nashvillians allowed for Blood Orange to nearly sell out Cannery. As expected, the set was delightfully song heavy, as it’s easy to forget just how extensive Hynes’ Blood Orange output has been in the past decade or so. Song after song after song from Negro Swan, Freetown Sound, Cupid Deluxe, and Coastal Grooves invigorated and reverberated throughout Cannery (which most of us know is no easy feat). Even though Nashville was part of the third leg of the Negro Swan Tour, it was the right time to hit.