TUNES // Ben’s Incessantly Streamed Tracks: #18 Better Than Me — Blood Orange

Photo and words by Ben Montemayor

When nights alone and nights you’re bored / And can’t resist or miss the chance of being who they think they think you are

It’s nearly pitch black in my apartment. There’s a crisp chill ebbing in through the cracked window and with it comes an effervescent array of new notes. A gentle sting settles in just below my rib cage, one of comparison and jealousy. My eyes on the floor, the linoleum starts to thump a red hue. Shifting my gaze upward there’s a single bulb suspended, pulsing in the middle of the room, my seated reflection refracting on the glass coffee table below.

Know my worth and fake the blame / But I know she’s better than me

Between flashes, I can see him now and her then; people carefully curated and held to expectations unattainable. Too much value invested in her perception, with little to none in his self-worth. No one could be more critical of him or her than me.

“Dev” Hynes has been wistfully haunting playlists of mine as Blood Orange for a couple of years. I have always been drawn to his swirling melodies and prominently featured female vocals (“Better Than Me” features Carly Rae Jepsen). It wasn’t until Freetown Sound however that I truly realized I needed to give him a more thorough listen. Freetown is overtly political: a complex study of race and gender inequality. Subjectively “Better Than Me” has deep personal meaning when I listen to it, but when put in the context of the entire album Hynes has openly discussed the song being “…[about feeling] not black enough or not queer enough.” Why not give the whole album a listen?


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