Broad, sweeping statements about the impact of a young artist always tend to come off a little disingenuous, but the impact that Dev Hynes has had on music and our culture is hard to overstate. Not only is he a brilliant musician, producer, collaborator, and solo artist, but he tackles significant social and political issues with a grace and nuance that’s rare from a public figure. He is a presence, and sadly, that presence is now probably going to disappear from our social networks. I can’t really say I blame him, though.
Hynes’ last two Facebook posts came two months ago, on 7/1, and they point to the rampant racism, and unfettered police violence against black men specifically, that has been at the center of the media for the last year or so:
America is in the middle of an act of terrorism right now, and black people are being attacked and killed every day. Every day I wake up and it becomes harder for me to interact with my friends and the world around me. I am scared, scared for myself, for my family, for my brothers & for my sisters. You may see me write on this page or playing music and see me as Blood Orange or Dev Hynes, but I turn the corner and I am just another black man, a black man that can’t get a cab, a black man that has to be careful how i walk if i want to overtake a young white woman so that she doesn’t feel scared, a black man that has to sit down and be silent when a police car circles the basketball court I play at, a black man that could be shot down at any time in my life, and as I’m dying know full well, that even if they were to catch who killed me, he will get off free. It is an incredible sadness & heaviness. Being told that we do not matter on and on and on day to day to day. America likes to act like a super human yet continues to blame human error for these horrific acts. I don’t know what to do anymore.
The details he shares of his experience as a black man in America are heartbreaking, and those same details are echoed in the song he shared in a separate post called “Do You See My Skin Through The Flames?“:
Though Hynes used to tweet somewhat frequently from his personal account, he stopped posting there toward the end of June, and also abandoned his Instagram six weeks ago. And he’s been an active user of Tumblr, but judging by a post from earlier this week, that might be coming to a close, too. Here’s what he wrote on 8/31:
when i was younger i was called a faggot for who I was and was spat on and beaten up over and over again and put in hospital and now that i’m older i get insulted for the same reasons but only now i’m called a misogynist instead & it’s hard for me to not think race plays a small role in this… i need to stay with myself and out of the world, I had said bye to twitter, facebook & instagram, but thought this platform was different for some reason. Bye.
He’s posted one more thing on Tumblr since this message, one of the more honest GIFs from Kanye’s incredible speech at the VMAs, which is embedded below:
I took a week off social media last month and it did wonders for my state of mind, so here’s hoping Dev Hynes finds some peace during his time away, whether it’s temporary or not.