Blood Orange, also known as Devonté “Dev” Hynes, hasn’t released new music in a hot minute—but today he’s making his long-awaited return with “Sandra’s Smile.” Ringing with the sound of ’80s-inspired pop-funk and grounded by hefty drums, the song is a heartfelt tribute to Sandra Bland, the black woman who died in a jail cell at a prison in Texas this past summer. The accompanying music video features Waffle Crew, Junglepussy, Ian Isiah, and more.
Hynes has made a point to be vocal about social and political injustice, frequently sharing his views on his Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter accounts. He is actively involved in protests throughout NYC, and is open about his various experiences and encounters with racism. (Like that time that he was assaulted by security at Lollapalooza.) Three months ago, Hynes expressed some of the frustration he’d been feeling as a black man in a song called “Do You See My Skin Through The Flames?”
Following the track’s release, Hynes claimed that he would be taking a leave of absence from all social media after receiving constant offensive messages on Tumblr. At the time, he and Julian Casablancas had also written a lengthy, candid conversation in which they discussed music, racial politics, and their pasts, and Hynes was outraged when the publication that agreed to run it made unauthorized edits and censored the piece without either of the artists’ consent.
In an interview with Complex, Hynes said that the next Blood Orange album would primarily focus on identity and politics. “If I have this very tiny platform, I might as well fucking say something,” he said. “So it is deliberately, lyrically about that. Not in a blunt way. But in a way that, if you have these feelings, then you know. And if you don’t, you’ll probably have no clue that any of that stuff is even about that.” If this song is a preview of what’s to come, we can’t wait to hear the rest of the material that Hynes has been working on. Watch the video above, and read the song lyrics here.
Sandra’s Smile. pic.twitter.com/no9G55ywMN— Devonté Hynes (@devhynes) October 27, 2015