Those three artists deserved an article. From left to right, JPEGMAFIA, Blood Orange and Rome Fortune have been some delights and breath of hair in the rap industry. They are each other in their own universe, but I clearly see the links and the musical innovation they are bringing to the industry. This article is an ode to them.
Jerome Fortune born in Philadelphie (Pennsylvania) but raised in Atlanta, is something else. I first heard of him on the french musical channel Ofive, circa autumn 2015. I was watching video clips and I heard the first notes of « DANCE » (2015). The song has me at the first notes of house music. The music and the video are soft and crazy. A roller disco party, stylish people and a triangular love story, what else?
I especially liked the tone of his voice and the charisma coming from him. He just seems « weird », in a good sense. So, I started to search his discography and his social medias and I discovered a new world. Fortune has a unconditional love for women, precisely, black women. And I love to see it. Many of his songs turn around sex and love. He can be charming and dirty at the same time. He’s just free and try to express himself by his ways and it’s so cool. No musical and visual barriers, he just feels free. His single « Freaks »(2018) embodies his world. The single is a musical representation of a sexual adventure. His lyrics are floating, we don’t have to take them seriously but his art is serious and unique.
Fortune has released an album called « FREEK » in January 2020 and it’s unconditionally him. From the album cover to the sounds, he seems to embrace his Atlanta identity, some songs have a South beat and rhythm as in « A Girlz » and « Pheromones », the rapper carries a serene voice tone but the main subject of his songs doesn’t change. He evolves but retains his character. With his colorful outfits and blue beard, the rapper seems to be on his beautiful way to success.
Where should I start ? Blood Orange named Devonté Hynes is a real ovni. I first heard of him around 2017, also on the French music tv channel Ofive, in the music video « Augustine ». And I was so tangled. I just hated his voice so much. It was just so dissonant to hear. But the music and the creativity were present. And that’s why I continued to follow his career and his evolution. Blood Orange is like a bird, a ghost. We can never predict what he is about to do, with whom and how. His art is strange and very aesthetic. When I see him, I see Solange or Florence or Santigold, three talented women whom imposed themselves and their worlds in the music industry, for the good love of creativeness. Blood Orange is maybe one of the first man that I see doing something that beautiful since a long time. A touch of Prince and London spirit and here we are. With the time, his music started talking to me. His art is a real experience, that you have to absorb. And when you succeeded, you open the door on a new universe.
I specially love his videos and how he makes New York city so shiny and vivid, more than some New Yorkers artists. I love how he transcends the code of music and voices but mostly how he portrays black people and make them look like sublime creatures. It stays philosophical, there’s nothing graphic or political but it stills real and sensible. From rock to wave and r’n’b musics, he adapts and goes beyond the genres. His videos are full of diversity, ethnically and sexually. The album « Freedom Sound » (2016) is an ode to black love. « Negro Swan »(2018), is a loaded of liberty and ease, like the song « Hope » ft Diddy and the delicate singer Tei Shi. The song is about the conflict in a couple and the maze that love can be sometimes. And this is how Blood Orange wins, his videos are just like his songs.
Last year, he released an expected mixtape called « Angel’s Pulse » (2019) and he just confirmed what I told you below, he’s incredible. In this last project, he once again produced all the project. From the features as the one with Toro y moi and the sounds on the project, everything’s perfect. I particularly liked his collaboration with the singer Justine Skye, on « Good For You ». In a certain way, Orange or Devon is reviving a sleeping part of American r’n’b, even though he’s British. And I love to see it.
Born in New York but raised in Baltimore (Maryland), Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks is a fireball. Maybe the touch of his birthplace (born in the neighborhood of Flatbush) stayed in his veins. Because this man is an hybrid in the rap industry. His music as Blood Orange music, is very instrumental, but more digital and deconstructed. Each of his songs is a code. I can’t tell you when I first heard of him especially but it was years ago, when I fell on his second project « Veteran » (2018). The project is messy, impolite and indescribable. JPEGMAFIA is a strange gangsta. His music sounds like a mix of Flatbush Zombies and Tyler The Creator. His lyrics are wild and brutal. He raps like an Atlanta rapper. But his music differs from his lyrics. His music and instrumentals are alternative and closed of dubstep or techno. It’s incredible. With his high voice in the mix, JPEGMAFIA is complex like an computing program or an android. Some songs just sound unfinished, they don’t have a blueprint, a concret plan. Sometimes dissonant, when you adjust, it’s pretty cool and aesthetic.
JPEGMAFIA challenges the code of rap music, or even of music to be precise. His last project called « All my heroes are cornballs »(2019) is….just pure JPEGMAFIA. But it has something softer and less messy or it’s maybe his satin kimono that he wears on the album cover that charms me. No sincerely, the project is clearer but the rapper dosent’t loose his musical singularity. It’s eclectic and rich. « BBW » is a mix of everything, the rapper adopts his calm side. The name of the rapper is just maybe a clue of his music : it’s uncertain, sometimes faded but if you focus on for a long time, you can clearly see something. But you will never know what. You just have to follow the formula and maybe you will find the right result and its meaning. In most of his songs, we can hear his catchphrase « You think you know me » and I think we will never know sincerely. The rapper is a living contradiction, like a new machine whose is trying to adapt and work. But in this understanding of controlling or finding itself, a biological and organic art is flourishing. An odd way from nature to culture or simply the birth of a new advanced being.
To conclude, those three artists stories are as complex as their music. And this article just confirmed that the future of American rap music is out of the original cities of rap and hip hop, famously known (NY, LA and lately Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta). I can wait to see what is coming and more articles are in the making.
So, I hope that you understood all the parts of this article, because personally, my brainis overheating right now ahah.