Yesterday Dev Hynes, otherwise known as Blood Orange released an 11 minute song via Soundcloud, titled Do You See My Skin Through The Flames?. With it, he posted one of Robert Mapplethorpe’s famous portraits of a black male, and the caption, “This is not from my forthcoming album, just some things on my mind.”
The song, if you could call it that, begins with a soulful musical intro, before progressing to Hyne’s own lyrics. He speaks of feeling exhausted and alienated in his attempts to speak out against social injustice.
“I have nothing left to give when you don’t notice what’s wrong.”
“Charleston left be broken down but it’s just another day to you.”
Hynes has been known to speak about racism and white privilege on his social media accounts, but this is the first time he has expressed these feelings so blatantly and so concisely through his music.
Midway through the track changes in tone, as the piano and synths are paired back to reveal Hynes speaking about personal experiences of racism. He talks of being treated badly by cab drivers in Paris, when he was staying in the Marée,
“They proceeded to humiliate me and say that I was suspicious. It was pretty shitty. So I understand what you’re going through. Surrounded by friends of privilege who don’t get it.”
He also describes discovering that his last name was Irish, and that not only was it a slave name, it literally translate’s to servant.
“It’s a weird thing to have to carry around. I’m proud of my name. I’m proud of my Dad, I’m proud of my family. But it’s very strange to carry that every day. We all carry that, every black person carries that.”
In contrast to Hyne’s social media presence, Do You See My Skin Through The Flames? is looking to incite a reaction. Hynes seems has had enough of pointing out the obvious injustice that he sees around him, only to be received with surprise, or skepticism, The song is more of a personal exploration, lamenting the environment that he grew up in and reflecting on how that has impacted his identity. It is pensive, mournful and incredibly powerful.