Dru Barnes, “Jean-Michel”

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Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-native vocalist and producer Dru Barnes, formerly of the experimental duo JOGYO, is making music again after a terrifying street attack in 2013 in which he lost an eye (and nearly his life). His first single as a solo artist, from his upcoming album Silent Light (on which he collaborates with producer Taavi Haapala), is the haunting, trap-influenced “Jean-Michel”, a tribute both to Basquiat and to sheer human resilience and creativity. Barnes explores the strength inherent in trap, using its grimness and bleakness to get at something stripped-down and pure about the power of art to heal.

“In my mind, Jean-Michel is the Patron Saint of New York,” says Barnes of his decision to write about and for Basquiat’s memory. “I have always felt a deep personal connection to him.”

Silent Light will be available May 6 on Dither Down Records. Listen to “Jean-Michel” below.