“Lifelong history shows, that brown won’t go, brown just glows.”
This might be one of Helado Negro’s most striking, stunning verses, and that’s saying a lot from an artist who has repeatedly captured the complex beauty of brown self-love and identity on anthems like “Young, Latin and Proud” and “It’s My Brown Skin.”
On his newest song, “Please Won’t Please,” Helado Negro (aka Roberto Carlos Lange) again finds a restrained, self-effacing route to explore the tantamount questions of what it means to be brown, and this time, he hits at the bruised place that has been pulsing inside of so many of us during an increasingly fraught and frustrating political era. “We light ourselves on fire, just to see if anyone believes, that it’s just me,” he sings quietly over a sparse, floating beat, and the effect is just as powerful as letting out a primal scream.
“Please Won’t Please” is the first single off of Helado Negro’s new album This Is How You Smile, which he’s announced today as a follow-up to 2016’s Private Energy (earlier this year, he also released his Island Universe Story Four project). The album’s title is taken from the novelist Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” and its narrative is based around a walk toward a community pool in Helado Negro’s childhood neighborhood in Florida.
“Please Won’t Please” is an indication that This Is How You Smile continues many of the conversations Helado Negro initiated on Private Energy, only here, he says many of these threads have been pulled even father inward.
“In the song, I talk about a (lifelong) history of me, the things I know to be true then later the things that are resilient even after burning and growing old or just losing relevance. Brown glows because I want it to glow. I feel it because I enjoy it, ‘they can’t know’ meaning anyone but you won’t understand all the things you’ve been through, and that’s okay because to explain why you glow is unfair to the imagination,” he said.
This Is How You Smile is expected to drop in March of 2019.
UPCOMING HELADO NEGRO NORTH AMERICA TOUR DATES
February 10/11 – NEW YORK, NY, Brooklyn Steel *
February 12 – BROOKLYN, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg *
February 14 – WASHINGTON, DC, The Anthem *
February 15 – PHILADELPHIA, PA, Tower Theater *
February 16 – BOSTON, MA, Orpheum Theatre *
February 18 – MONTREAL, QC, MTELUS *
February 19 – TORONTO, ON, Sony Centre *
February 21 – MILWAUKEE, WI, Pabst Theatre *
February 22 – CHICAGO, IL, Riviera Theatre *
February 23 – MINNEAPOLIS, MN, Palace Theatre *
February 26 – VANCOUVER, BC, Orpheum Theatre *
February 27 – SEATTLE, WA, Paramount Theatre *
February 28 – PORTLAND, OR, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall *
March 3 – OAKLAND, CA, Fox Theatre *
May 10 – LOS ANGELES, CA, Walt Disney Hall &
* with Beirut & with Lila Downs