Blood Orange: An Underrated Genius in the Music Industry

I’m sure you’ve heard the names ASAP Rocky, Carly Rae Jepsen and Solange. But I have to ask you, have you heard of Blood Orange? Dev Hynes, the man behind the stage name, has written and produced for some of the top artists in the music industry, including the previously listed musicians.

Blood Orange at Coachella Circa 2019

where it all started

Dev Hynes got his start in the dance-punk trio, called Test Icicles (an interesting name choice, to say the least). They released their first album, For control purposes only, in 2005. The album was praised for its uniqueness and gained popularity in the independent music scene. Despite the success of their first album, the band never released a second. Just one year after their debut album, 2006 marked the end of Test Icicles. In an interview with NME, Haynes said, “We’ve never, ever been so passionate about music.”

Life after test ice cubes

After the trio broke up, Dev Hynes didn’t become Blood Orange overnight. In 2008, he became Lightspeed Champion, releasing his first album, Fall off the Lavender Bridge, a melancholic album very different from his previous works. Hynes released a second album under Lightspeed Champion, titled Life is Sweet! Nice to meet you. Both albums were well received for their production and songwriting quality. Around this time, Hynes began to attract a lot more attention.

2011 was the year that marked Hynes’ move from Lightspeed Champion to the infamous Blood Orange. In August of the same year, Coastal grooves was his first album released under this new identity. Although the names are different, Hynes has retained his style of alternative music. However, Blood Orange has more of a classic R&B/soul sound with lots of layered synthesizers to bring it all together.

The album that put him on the map

Hynes’ talent speaks for itself. However, with the help of social media, Blood Orange’s music found a new audience. TikTok has provided a platform for many musical artists. Due to the app’s high user base and fast-paced video sharing style, musicians have found fame and recognition through TikTok. Blood Orange’s song “Charcoal Baby” has become a popular song to feature in TikTok video montages. One of the most liked edits (23,000 likes to be exact) is a Gone Girl x American Psycho mash-up that amassed 142,300 views. A Coraline edit featuring the song received 53.9k views and nearly three thousand likes.

TikTok aside, Blood Orange currently has 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify (that number seems to keep growing). On YouTube, the music video for “Charcoal Baby” reached 2.9 million views. While these numbers are impressive, I think they should be higher (I’m biased, I admit). Blood Orange has a similar musical style to Tame Impala, but they attract nearly 22 million monthly listeners on Spotify, up from the 3 million previously reported. Heck, Blood Orange even remixed Tame Impala’s hit song, “Borderline.” Hynes’ art needs more hype.

Let’s take a step back and talk about Hynes’ hit song, “Charcoal Baby.” Yes, the base drop makes for an epic video montage, but the song is so much more than that. The message behind the lyrics and music video is just as powerful as the instrumental behind it. The song begins with a spoken quote from Janet Mock, “You ask me what family is, and I think of family as community. I think of spaces where you don’t have to shrink, where you don’t don’t have to pretend or perform…”

“Charcoal Baby” sends a message of unity. You can choose the family you want and you are never alone. At the start of the song, Hynes sings, “When you wake up/It’s not the first thing you wanna know/Can you still count/All the reasons why you’re not alone?” This song is wonderful. The combination of trumpet, flute, bass and synths work perfectly together. It makes you feel like the music is wrapping you in a hug, which is very comforting and relaxing. In a way, you feel like you’re not alone, which is exactly what the song suggests. If you’re looking to add a vibey song to your playlist, I suggest this one:

Charcoal Baby by Blood Orange

Worthwhile moments

Hynes performed with award-winning composer, Philip Glass, at Carnegie Hall (yes, you heard that right, Carnegie Hall). Interestingly, Hynes grew up classically trained and he has mentioned that classical music is what he primarily listens to. In 2019, Hynes released his classic debut album, The fields.

Blood Orange has an impressive resume when it comes to collaborations. Last year, Blood Orange and Paul McCartney released the song “Deep Down”. You know Paul McCartney, a member of one of the most successful boy bands of all time (cough, The Beatles).

Other notable mentions of artists Dev Hynes has worked with include Solange, Carly Rae Jepsen, Nelly Furtado, FKA Twigs, and ASAP Rocky (and that’s just to name a few).

Blood Orange song with Paul McCartney

Although Blood Orange has gained some well-deserved recognition, Dev Hynes has been a top songwriter and producer in the industry for years now. Most people don’t know the geniuses behind their favorite songs. You can hear the passion and talent in every song Hynes touches. His uniqueness and wide range of skills will make him a driving force in the industry for years to come. If you haven’t listened to his music yet, what are you waiting for?

Where I got my information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_Icicles#:~:text=In%20February%202006%2C%20the%20band,that%20keen%20on%20the%20music.

Family item

Consequence article

https://genius.com/a/timeline-a-decade-of-dev-hynes-collaborations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dev_Hynes

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/aug/16/blood-orange-dev-hynes-producer-songwriter

https://quotecatalog.com/quote/janet-mock-you-asked-me-wh-1NGEAy7

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