WUSF Jazz

Blood Orange Re-Envisions 18th Century European Aristocracy In ‘Benzo’ Video

Dev Hynes, also known as Blood Orange, has released a new music video for his song “Benzo.” The video itself is a reimagining of the opulent period of Marie Antoinette with new millennium tweaks. The track is off the artist’s latest project, Angel’s Pulse, which also features Toro y Moi, Kelsey Lu, Justine Skye and more.

In the lavish and self-directed visual, Blood Orange plays cello for a crowd of aristocrats lounging in their salon before the instrumentation turns completely electronic. The mellow saxophone and simple bass line make the song a great addition to the U.K. native’s repertoire.

“Benzo” is rather short — only two verses, two chorus lines and a few musical interludes and there’s a neo-soul sound to the piece, with a musical references to jazz. What is perhaps most interesting about the music video is the playful and dramatic imagery: Pastel, powdered wigs, men dressed in drag with rhinestone masks and an all-black ensemble. Fellow artists Gitoo and Ian Isiah cue up the video with a short, comical exchange. These visual elements of high class aristocrats, with pointe ballet dancers and feathered fans, are not often visually depicted with members of the African-American community. The longing to be free and open is a stark contrast to the stuffy, royal parlor scene where the video takes place.

“What’s worse? Ego? / Thinking that it’s something that you’re owed / 2 a.m. It’s not like it was / Listen to the fears that you hear now,” Blood orange sings. As the chorus repeats, it picks up additional instrumentation and background vocals: “Open the door / leave me with arms exposed oh / Outside, I saw where I belong.”

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.