Blood Orange's "Angel's Pulse" Mixtape Is a Colorful Coda to "Negro Swan"

Pulse is minimalist but carries a message, beckoning listeners to figure themselves out while he's also trying to self-reflect.

Blood Orange

Last year Blood Orange (né Dev Hynes) released the acclaimed Negro Swan, a stream of consciousness that served as a treatise on identity politics.

He explored what it meant to be black and depressed in a heteronormative society that seemingly rejects those who are different. On his new release, the Angel's Pulse mixtape, he continues his existential journey with 30+ new minutes that complement his catalogue like a colorful, free-flowing coda.

Like on Swan, Hynes fuses elements of R&B, hip-hop, and alt-pop to create tracks that are chillwave-adjacent. On board lending their talents are Toro y Moi, Kelsey Lu, Ian Isiah, Project Pat, Gangsta Boo, Tinashe, Porches, Arca, Joba of Brockhampton, Justine Skye, and BennY RevivaL, but the production and mixing are all Hynes's unique voice and flow.

"I put as much work and care into it as I do with the albums I've released, but for some reason trained myself into not releasing things the rate at which I make them. I'm older now though, and life is unpredictable and terrifying," said Hynes in a statement.

Pulse is minimalist but carries a message, beckoning listeners to figure themselves out while he's also trying to self-reflect. "What is it you notice all that way down? Our vacant sounds can help you figure it out," he sings on "Baby Florence (Figure)."

His ideas may individually seem like abstracts, but Pulse is an introspective downtempo collection that casts a much wider net, navigating pain, a broken heart, confusion, and the fear of lost connection. On "Tuesday Feeling (Choose to Stay)," he laments choosing "to ignore blues," while feeling scattered and misunderstood. "I want the lifestyle for free, I want the p**sy for free, an arm around me to grieve, a sleep without sweat and me, my self doubts in a tweet, my mood rests on coffee, try to understand me."

As with past releases, he's anxious about merely existing, yet confronts those feelings of unrest head on. On "Happiness," he asks, "How do you know when life will choose to fade away? How do you know if you've been wrong?" Fifteen years and five releases later, Hynes is still searching for meaning and answers in these tumultuous times.

Blood Orange records have always been about stepping out and owning one's differences. Musically, his mellow, moody beats and macro concepts make him a standout, yet thematically Hynes appears uncertain and wavering...and it's a relief to hear someone cop to that. On the mixtape's closer, "Today," he sings, "Loose touch and confidence never seems the same, eyesight stays clearer when selfishness became number one and chewing gum you were afraid, big mistake in stepping out...Nothing good today."

Hynes has always boldly represented himself with his originality, lush melodies, and poignant creative direction, never failing to unravel new layers of himself, both sonically and spiritually. On Pulse, Hynes proves to be the genre-spanning auteur we always knew he was. By continuing to focus on his insecurities and anxieties, he shows us that everyone—everything—is a work in progress and that recognizing imperfection is our greatest strength.

Angel's Pulse


Megan Thee Stallion Slows Down for No One on New Album "Fever"

The Houston rapper's breakout project has been a long time coming, and her technical prowess and powerful charisma make Fever a fun and invigorating showcase of her talent.

Megan Thee Stallion

Dave Burke/Shutterstock

Megan Thee Stallion's rise has been thrilling to watch.

The Houston rapper released three rollicking mixtapes, Rich Ratchet, Make It Hot, and Tina Snow, in the span of three years, gaining notoriety for her prodigious flow and charisma. She's been dropping freestyles all of 2019, spitting gems for the likes of DJ QuinnRaynor and Fire in the Booth. She's cultivated a devoted fanbase who rally to her raunchy bars and assertive performance. And now she's released Fever, her newest project, and it feels like a prophecy has been fulfilled. Fever is meant for shaking the walls of a house party with relentless trap beats and Megan's commanding voice.

It's fun to hear just how much Megan is in control on Fever. It's an admirably functional mixtape, bottling her appeal into a tight forty minutes that showcases the best parts of her Hot Girl Meg persona. She's credited with writing every song on the album, and you can hear that authorship in every rhyme that rolls off her tongue. She's unbothered on "Realer," coolly flexing on "Cash Shit," and ferociously sneering on "W.A.B." Megan mixes her sexual agency and her burgeoning success as proof of her own power, charging up her fearless performance with a natural ease. Her technical prowess fuels that presence, her bars taking flight over the dynamic production, especially on her tracks with producer LilJuMadeDaBeat. There's a disarming and genuine sweetness on the loving "Best You Ever Had" and "Bring Drank," while "Shake That" and "Ratchet" are the standouts on the second half of a track list dominated by bass-heavy club bangers. And Megan still manages to inject moments of wild levity, with priceless Spongebob references on "Running Up Freestyle" and on "Simon Says," as she narrates her and her posse robbing an unsuspecting male. DaBaby and Juicy J do what they can on their features, bringing their own nastiness, but they can't match Megan's raw star power. It's never anything less than her show.

At this point in her still-young career, a project doesn't need to be more than what it is, and Fever is delirious fun. It's Megan making the argument that her style — uncompromisingly hard and arrestingly confident — deserves to take up room in the modern rap landscape. It's the soundtrack to a summer of putting trifling men in their place and conquering the dance floor. "When you hear my fucking name / Know they speaking on a champ," she raps on "Pimpin," punching out space for herself with the force of a speeding train. Megan Thee Stallion's arrival is undeniable. Miss it at your own risk.


Music Reviews

New Dwilly EP is a Vibrant Swirl of Colors

On Crayola, Dwilly showcases his many talents.

If you've been sleeping on Dwilly, then it's about time you woke up.

Dwilly is a rare kind of talent. A musician, vocalist, songwriter, and producer — this Los Angeles-based phenom does it all.

Fans of R&B, EDM, and hip hop, can all find something to love in his latest EP, Crayola, which dropped March 8th on CloudKid records. This five-track release is short and sweet, but it packs a major punch. The opening track, "crayola," wastes no time in setting the mood for what's to come. On this upbeat anthem for the persevering artist, Dwilly exclaims, "If you tell me turn it down/ I'll just turn it up real loud/ Grab the Ibuprofen, cuz I'm goin' apeshit 'til I make it!" The production on this song is both minimalistic and appropriately vibrant – but still a banger, nonetheless. This song is just begging to be bumped in your car on a beautiful, sunny day.

The quality of the production doesn't falter throughout the rest of the EP. On songs like "ugh!" and "fade," Dwilly continues to show us his prowess as a producer. The attention to detail he pays to his beats is impressive, resulting in tracks that are as musically interesting as they are sonically experiential. His samples and synth hits are so meticulously placed that they create something of a jigsaw soundscape of colors and harmonies. Forget repetitive loops and singular drum patterns, every song on this EP evolves and grows with time.

Crayola can be streamed on all the usual channels. If you like what you hear, you can also enter Dwilly's Crayola Snapchat filter contest for a chance to appear in the upcoming video for the EP's title track.


Dustin DiPaulo is a writer and musician from Rochester, New York. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University and can most likely be found at a local concert, dive bar, or comedy club (if he's not getting lost somewhere in the woods).

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Weathers Come Into Their Own

The up-and-coming LA boy band talks night drives, inspirations, and the redemptive experience that is a concert where musicians and fans can come together and bond over the shared emotions at the core of being alive.

Weathers have a lot going for them. On February 7th, the four-piece LA-bred band of mostly newly minted 21-year-olds lit up Brooklyn's Knitting Factory with their tightly wound pop-rock, which takes notes from the 1975, M83, and Cage the Elephant while adding its own flavors of millennial existentialism. It's the kind of music that you can dance all night to or blast on a long drive while contemplating the inner workings of human existence. Their introspective lyrics spread the message that it really is okay not to be okay, while infectious drumbeats touch upon on the kind of stylization that's launched boy-bands before them to stratospheric stardom.

Popdust met up with them before the show to talk about night drives, inspirations, and the redemptive experience that is a concert where musicians and fans can come together and bond over the shared emotions at the core of being alive.

POPDUST: You've said you felt you underwent a big change after releasing your first music. What kind of change was it—was it a personal or sonic thing?

CAMERON BOYER: All of the above. You can hear it in our older stuff like "Happy Pills" and "I Don't Wanna Know." We were babies when that stuff came out, fresh out of high school, and we felt like we were someone else's project. After "Happy Pills," we decided to take some time off and wrote music for like a year and a half—which was terrifying, because a major label had signed us and we were telling them, hey, we're gonna change our sound.

That period led to Kids in the Night, which we feel like is a good representation of who we are as people, and will be for a long time.

POPDUST: What caused those changes?

Early on we had this rule where all the songs had to be dark and kind of creepy. But over time, we all kind of realized that we didn't want to flounder around in our darkness, if that makes sense; it's not a fun place to be all the time, especially creatively. We still wanted to have some of those darker tones lyrically, but we also wanted to have fun onstage and let loose and have the music reflect a new, more positive attitude while still keeping who we are through our lyrics.

POPDUST: Is there any specific role you imagine your music playing in people's lives?

CAMERON OLSEN: It could be pretty cool to have kids that listen to us now feel like, hey, Weathers was the soundtrack of our high school experience.

Weathers - Problems (Video)

POPDUST: Your song 1983 is a love letter to driving in cars, which is such a classic teenage experience. Do you have any favorite car songs?

CB: Nightcall by Kavinsky. It was my number one most listened to track of 2017, I think.

BRENNAN BATES: Night House by Joywave was one of my recent favorites. It's very much a driving song—as well as Outcast by Mainland.

CB: Somebody Else by the 1975 is great too, and Midnight City by M83 is a go-to. I read that they wrote that song specifically based on the feeling of driving through Los Angeles at night.

Kavinsky - Nightcall (Drive Original Movie Soundtrack) (Official Audio)

POPDUST: Can you talk a bit about your songwriting process? Who comes up with what?

COLE CARSON: Usually there's someone on a computer who's creating the base of a track, and on top of that we start humming melodies, and once we have a track and a vibe we add lyrics.

CO: A lot of Problems was created outside, without instruments, playing catch with a football—we just came up with a concept and lyrics.

CB: Olsen and I worked together on the album, but we've also been writing a lot together as a group.

POPDUST: I love how you guys often emphasize honesty in your songwriting and interviews, especially with mental health. Why is honesty important to you, and what's its role in your music?

CB: If you're not honest with yourself, then who are you? You have to be honest with yourself if you're going to create anything, otherwise it's all going to feel fabricated.

BB: Honesty is a huge part of communication in any kind of relationship, with a loved one or a fan or a friend. Creating this music and building that connection with people is a different kind of communication to harvest, and honesty is a huge part of that.

POPDUST: You've written songs about very personal themes. Is it ever difficult to perform them, or do you find it cathartic?

CB: The only song that gets tough to sing is Secret's Safe with Me; that one's really personal. It's not actually about me—it's about someone else—so that gets tough.

CC: Most of it feels pretty natural. We're proud of the things we've been through that make us who we are. Everybody is going through similar stuff, so it's pretty rad that we can go up there and be like, we're exactly the same.

CB: The first time we ever played any of these songs live was when we headlined the Troubador. Seeing people singing I'm Not Ok, we got that feeling that they're all probably singing about something totally different—but it's helping them just as much as it's helping us.

Weathers - Secret's Safe With Me (Audio)

POPDUST: Have you had any especially meaningful interactions with fans?

CB: There's a fan who's printing out pictures and stickers to post around Vegas before our first headline show there, and other fans that are making T-shirts for us.

CC: Some fans have gotten tattoos of songs that meant a lot to them.

CO: Someone got Shallow Water, and someone got Take In the View from 1983.

CB: Someone last night asked me to write Nice 83 Vibe on a napkin so they could get it tattooed.

POPDUST: That must be wild—knowing something that you wrote will be on someone's body for the rest of their life.

So you just released a song called Dirty Money. Does that come from a place of personal frustration with capitalism, or is it about something else?

CB: The song has nothing to do with money at all, believe it or not… When you're in a band and you're young and you've got fans, it's easy to lose yourself a bit. The song's about battling egoes and the inner demons that come with being in the industry.

Dirty Money (Visualette)

POPDUST: Has it been difficult to maintain a sense of self? Have you felt any disjointedness between who you are performing and backstage, or is the transition more fluid?

CB: Onstage is the only place I feel like I get to really let loose. Otherwise, I'm usually pretty quiet or awkward, I don't know. It's really only onstage that I let go.

CC: When I'm onstage I'm definitely a lot crazier than in person.

CB: You really let it shine through the playing of the drums. You let the music do the talking.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @edenarielmusic.

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