Hip-hop’s answer to Prince is back with what would have once upon a time been known as a collection of B-Sides or bonus tracks. ‘Angel’s Pulse’ is basically an odds and ends collection of tracks written by Blood Orange in and around the time of 2018’s release ‘Negro Swan’.
If anybody has earned the right to release what they want in the world of hip-hop, though, it’s Dev Hynes. The former Test Icicle and Lightspeed Champion man has more than paid his dues across his eight albums to date, and frankly, his 2016 effort ‘Freetown Sound’ alone has earned him the right to waffle on to his heart’s content.
Hynes is joined by 12 collaborators including Tinashe, Ian Isiah, Toro Y Moi and Kelsey Lu across the sketchbook of 14 tracks, only two of which make it past the three-minute mark. This alone should be an indication that ‘Angel’s Pulse’ is a collection of rough work rather than fully gestated ideas.
However, ‘Angel’s Pulse’ is not without its charms. Happiness, Benzo and Today showcase his impressive vocal, while Hynes’ wide array of production skills unfurl on tracks such as Seven Hours Part 1 (featuring Benny Revival) and Take It Back.
Gold Teeth’s lazy street hustle bars courtesy of Gangsta Boo and Project Pat, on the other hand, are extremely dated and shouldn’t be anywhere near the classy strains of Tinashe’s vocals. Thankfully, Hynes finds room for something more suited to Tinashe’s vocal prowess with Tuesday Feeling (Choose To Stay), complete with an unexpected blast of shoegaze style guitar.
Blood Orange christened ‘Angel’s Pulse’ a mixtape on social media rather than a fully-fledged record, and that makes sense, as even its best moments seems unfinished. However, one thing’s for certain – if ‘Angel’s Pulse’ proves anything, it’s that Hynes works most effectively on his own rather than with a large assortment of guests. Let’s hope his next album proper is a true solo offering because this is when he’s truly at his best. In the meantime ‘Angel’s Pulse’ will suffice as a stopgap.