At a mere 24-years-old, Frank Ocean is one of the most talented and courageous R&B artists we’ve seen in years. His announcement last week that his new album, “Channel Orange,” offers a peek into his sexuality, received fairly positive remarks, with Beyoncé even publicly sharing her support.
In Ocean’s inspiring and honest Tumblr post, he shares sentiments like, “Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile…By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love.”
I love this blatant announcement of feelings. So often we hear R&B songs that we can’t relate to because the music is over-produced and the lyrics are phony. We can listen to Ocean’s songs like “Bad Religion” and “Forrest Gump,” and know that he wrote these for a real person, a real man, who he fell in love with.
Even though I was listening down in Austin, this album took me to another place – Los Angeles – and spurred dreams of what he calls a “domesticated paradise.” I wonder if my California based B-Sides team agrees with his depiction of the city and if they spent their high school days with “too many joy rides in daddy’s jaguar.”
Throughout the album, you’ll notice brief moments in between the songs, similar to Childish Gambino’s latest project, that break you away from the swell of the music and remind you that these songs are based on reality, possibly Ocean’s day-to-day life.
My favorite track, “Super Rich Kids,” pairs an old-school, solid beat and a fantastic rap cadence from Odd Future with the rough, painful subject of class tension. I love “Crack Rock” for its simple beauty and jazz-like elements that again, deal with the tough reality of addiction.
Back in 2009, Ocean joined Odd Future and later sang with buddies Jay-Z and Kanye West on “Watch the Throne.” He fell a little flat with his first release, “Nostalgia, Ultra,” but “Channel Orange” is truly a beautiful, telling foray into something more. Something with substance and truth and good old fashioned talent to back it up.
Cheers to Frank Ocean for his brave and blatant announcement and for letting us step into his life as a twenty-something figuring it all out.
Listen to “Super Rich Kids”:
You can listen to the full album here: http://frankocean.tumblr.com/.