Fans of Devonté Hynes's outstanding third Blood Orange album Freetown Sound are already well aware of New York City's paramount influence on the record, and on Hynes's music in general. "Augustine," the self-directed music video Hynes released heralding Freetown's arrival, is an intimate sketch of life in the city. It features scenes of Hynes rehearsing solo in a sun-drenched loft and with Porches frontman Aaron Maine, dancing on rooftops and in the park (a moment reminiscent of ballroom legend Willi Ninja voguing in the sunlight in Paris is Burning), and chowing down on jerk chicken at Miss Lily's with Julian Casablancas.
Hynes's just-released follow-up video, "I Know," also features frenetic NYC street scenes, but unlike "Augustine," it mostly takes place indoors: in a giant, quiet dance studio, where Hynes and ballerina Maria Kochetkova (a principal at the San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theater, and apparently a Gosha Rubchinskiy fan to boot) perform elegant choreography scored by the Freetown deep cut.
Hynes played a part in directing this video himself, too; though this time, he teamed up with longtime pal, photographer, director, musician, (and occasional Marc Jacobs model) Tracy Antonopoulos. When Antonopoulos photographed and interviewed her closest friends and collaborators for i-D last year, Hynes said: "When I think of NYC I think of [Tracy] and when I think of her I think of Washington Square Park." It's unsurprising the pair chose to bookend their video with scenes of the city they share.
Kochetkova and Hynes's performance paired with "I Know's" piano lilts and atmospheric drum machines is nothing short of sublime. Their movements are at once exact and effortlessly fluid (it doesn't really matter how much you rewatch the slow-motion cuts between 2:24-2:59, you will get chills each and every time).
"I Know" and "Augustine" are just two of Freetown Sound's 17 tracks. Fingers crossed that Hynes and his hyper-talented network of collaborators make visuals this beautiful for each and every one of them.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Jalan and Jibril
Styling Carlos Nazario