A Brief Guide To All The Artists And Activists Featured On Dev Hynes’s Freetown Sound

From Ta-Nehisi Coates to Carly Rae Jepsen.

June 28, 2016

Dev Hynes has regularly collaborated with other artists under his Blood Orange guise. Whether it was working with Samantha Urbani, Skepta, and Caroline Polachek on 2011's Cupid Deluxe, or teaming up with Ariel Rechtshaid on debut Coastal Grooves, Hynes often amplifies his own voice with the help of others. New album Freetown Sound, released today ahead of schedule, is no different. Here's a guide to who's who on the album.

Ava Raiin


A photo posted by Ava Raiin (@avaraiin) on

Ava Raiin is a self-described "ex choir nerd" and New York-based artist. She's sung back-up for Carly Rae Jepsen in the past and her new single "Eagle Eye" premiered online in May. Her vocals can be heard on four of Freetown Sound's 17 tracks.


Features on: "By Ourselves", "Augustine", "Juicy 1-4", and "Thank You"

Empress Of
A Brief Guide To All The Artists And Activists Featured On Dev Hynes’s <i>Freetown Sound</i> Rosie Marie Cromwell for The FADER.

Real name Lorely Rodriguez, Empress Of released her debut album Me in 2015. She has collaborated with Dev Hynes in the past. Empress Of's own solo material includes a PSA about street harassment, and her friendship with Abra hit peak #goals when they toured together in 2015. Revisit Empress Of's GEN F profile.

Features on: "Best To You"

Debbie Harry


A photo posted by Debbie Harry (@debbieharrydaily) on

The iconic lead singer of Blondie. She and Dev Hynes performed alongside Patti Smith at last year's Tibet House Benefit Concert 2015 at New York's Carnegie Hall and he is reported to be writing material for the next Blondie album.


Features on: "E.V.P."

Ta-Nehisi Coates

witnessed genius tonight

A photo posted by @sophiawsohn on


Coates is the writer and journalist whose second book Between the World and Me was published in July 2015. Presented in the form of a letter to his teenage child, the book tackles racial history of America alongside Coates's wishes for his son's future. Earlier this year, his Black Panther series for Marvel Comics came out.

Sampled on: "Love Ya"

Vince Staples
A Brief Guide To All The Artists And Activists Featured On Dev Hynes’s <i>Freetown Sound</i> Daniel Shea for The FADER.

Staples is a rapper, Twitter comedian, sports critic, and holder of controversial opinions. A sample of his 2015 TIME interview in which he explains why he thinks '90s music is overrated appears on Freetown Sound.


Sampled on: "Hands Up"

De La Soul

#tbt #delasoul #dontsleep #newalbum #anonymousnobody

A photo posted by delasolarvision (@wearedelasoul) on


The iconic rap group whose 1996 song "Stakes Is High" is sampled at the end of "Thank You." Hynes chose to take Pos's line: Let me tell you what it's all about,/ A skin not considered equal./ A meteor has more right than my people for the sample.

Sampled on: "Thank You"

Ashlee Haze

Happy Saturday!

A photo posted by Ashlee Haze (@ashleehaze) on

Atlanta poet Haze appears on the album reading her poem "For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliott Poem).” The poem first went viral in 2015 and led to Haze being visited at home by Elliott. Read more about Ashlee Haze here.

Sampled on: "By Ourselves"

Venus Xtravaganza

Venus Xtravaganza was a transgender performer who achieved cult status after featuring in 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning. She took her name from the House of Xtravaganza, one of many ‘houses’ at the heart of 1980s ball culture. She was tragically killed in a New York hotel room in 1988.


Sampled on: "Desirée"


strappled, baby ✔️🎉

A photo posted by @bea.1991 on


Dutch artist BEA rebranded herself as Bea1991 last year and released her ghostly pop song "candid breaks the strain." Her vocals can be heard on three of Freetown Sound's tracks.

Features on: "With Him," "E.V.P." and "Squash Squash"

A Brief Guide To All The Artists And Activists Featured On Dev Hynes’s <i>Freetown Sound</i> Press

Bryndon Cook, who records as Starchild, describes his music as “Champion Music for the Heartbroken.” His Crucial EP was released in March 2016.


Features on: "But You," "Hands Up," and "Better Than Me"

Ian Isiah


Isiah makes Auto-tune heavy R&B, and is signed to UNO NYC. He is also a creative consultant to former school buddy Shayne Oliver at streetwear brand Hood By Air.

Features on: "By Ourselves" and "Augustine"

Nelly Furtado

💘 Woah Nelly 💘 pic by Ana Kraš

A photo posted by Bad Boy Chi Chi 🌹 Blood Orange (@devhynes) on

A self-described man-eater, Furtado appears on a song that was originally released on cassette in 2015. The tape was only available for one night in December at a sold-out Blood Orange charity show at The Apollo, benefitting the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music.

Features on: "Hadron Collider"

Kelsey Lu

🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞 @nts_radio and @youngturks and 👁

A photo posted by Kelsey Lu McJunkins (@kelseylu69) on

Based in Brooklyn, Kelsey Lu is signed to True Panther Sounds and will release her debut EP Church on July 8. The EP includes the sparse and hypnotic single "Dreams."


Features on: "Chance"

Carly Rae Jepsen

Nothing better than performing with friends. @devhynes joined us last night in NYC! 🔮

A photo posted by Carly Rae Jepsen (@carlyraejepsen) on


The Canadian pop star who won critics over with her 2015 album E.MO.TION. Call her, maybe.

Features on: "Better Than Me"

Zuri Marley

Going to Coney Island

A photo posted by ZURI MARLEY (@zurilyric) on

Granddaughter of the legendary Bob Marley, and the daughter of his first son Ziggy.

Features on: "Love Ya"

A Brief Guide To All The Artists And Activists Featured On Dev Hynes’s Freetown Sound