Jamaica-via-Brooklyn conceptual artist Dru Barnes is breaking a nearly two-year silence with the premiere of “Jean-Michel”. The track is a powerful, trap-heavy tribute to iconic American artist Basquiat and offers up the first taste of Barnes’ much-anticipated debut full-length, Silent Light, out May 6 on Dither Down Records.
After a near-death experience that garnered international attention, Barnes was compelled to usher in a new chapter with his music and life. In the wake of his tragedy, the critically acclaimed musician shed past monikers, launched a solo career and teamed up with producer Taavi Haapala to make his first full-length. Prior to that, Barnes developed a global fan base while in experimental duo JOGYO. He built up a reputation for challenging traditional hip-hop norms by blending genres, cross-cultural dance forms, performance art and the like.
With “Jean-Michel”, Barnes pays homage to Basquiat by echoing his world-renowned message to “create art on your own terms,” an ideology that helped the ground-breaking artist stand out from contemporaries Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. For that reason, the single is a fitting reintroduction of Barnes as a singer/performer and doubles as reflection of where he’s headed personally and creatively with this record.
Silent Light is born from improvisation, synthesizing trap, trip hop, hip hop, rap, and ‘90s dance beats with influences that range from R&B and folk to world and new-age. The music reveals truth and vulnerability and explores themes of love, connectivity and universal awareness, utilizing sound as a tool for transformation.