Frank Ocean‘s Channel Orange is a nightmare of an album to review, not because it’s a bad piece of work or even because of the circumstances that surrounded its release (read: Frank Ocean broke the ice about his still unclear sexuality just days before the album’s release with a painful recounting of his failed relationship with a man — a huge no-no in the heteronormative R&B world). Instead, the difficulty of reviewing Channel Orange lies in the fact that its such an intimate experience that it probably shouldn’t be dissected out of respect for Ocean. That emotional purity and the special way that Ocean seems to deliver it make Channel Orange an engaging and heartwarming listen from start to finish. He may be bisexual, but his pains and murmurs of unrequited love ring true to a much wider audience (it’s no wonder that he found success early on in his career writing songs for Beyoncé).
Interestingly enough, what makes Frank Ocean so particularly endearing may or may not even be the music he manages to make; his wit, charisma, and uncharacteristic nonchalance for someone with so much pain inside him carry him more than far enough. Perhaps even more interesting though, is that this doesn’t even matter in the grander scheme that is Channel Orange. From the bittersweet reminiscing of ”Thinkin Bout You” to the outpour of regret and contemplation on “Bad Religion” to the ten-minute magnum opus that is “Pyramids”, Ocean spins a tale of desperation and heartbreak so real and so personal that we can discover exactly who Frank Ocean is, regardless of what we may or may not have heard about him. “This unrequited love, to me it’s nothing but a one-man cult and cyanide in my styrofoam cup. I could never make him love me,” he explains to a non-suspecting taxi-driver on “Bad Religion” — and suddenly, we know he has some secrets about his sexuality. On “Pink Matter”, he questions, “What do you think my brain is made for? Is it just a container for the mind?” — and we feel both his mind and brain at work. When Ocean’s flawless falsetto accentuates the hook on “Thinkin Bout You” and he croons, “Or do you not think so far ahead? Cause I’ve been thinking ’bout forever,” we feel Ocean’s nostalgia for the past he loved and the future that never was, all in the present tense. Over the course of the album’s intentionally sparse 17 songs, we discover much about Ocean while at the same time, he encourages us to discover more about ourselves as he carefully pieces each vignette together and invites us to reflect alongside him.
Ocean is far from what you would normally expect from an R&B star, but he does represent everything that you’d hope to find in one. That, perhaps, is much more important.
Channel Orange Tracklisting:
02 Thinkin Bout You
04 Sierra Leone
05 Sweet Life
06 Not Just Money
07 Super Rich Kids [ft. Earl Sweatshirt]
08 Pilot Jones
09 Crack Rock
12 White [ft. John Mayer]
14 Bad Religion
15 Pink Matter [ft. André 3000]
16 Forrest Gump
There’s a good chance that Channel Orange may be Frank Ocean’s first official release with Def Jam, which was previously rumored for release in the summer of 2012. Since releasing his shelved album Nostalgia, Ultra as a mixtape last year, the singer went on to gain internet stardom and two well-received features on Jay-Z and Kanye West‘s Watch The Throne. His first official single “Thinking Bout You” was released April 17, 2012 and may also be included on Channel Orange, although details are currently unknown at this time.
The collective has also announced OF Tape Vol. 2, which features new music from Tyler, the Creator, Hodgy Beats, Frank Ocean, Leftbrain, Domo Genesis, Mike G, Syd the Kyd and The Internet. The tape is a followup to the crew’s 2008 debut outing The Odd Future Mixtape, which you can download for free over here. On top of it all, Tyler and gang will also be premiering their own “Jackass”-like sketch show, Loiter Squad, March 25h on Adult Swim.
Head over here to check out a limited edition t-shirt designed by Tyler the Creator that will be released through Qubic Store. The shirt was made in response to the collective being kicked out of the lineup for Big Day Out 2012 Auckland, and they are set to have their own show at the Auckland Powerstation January 19th instead.
All future releases will be released through the crew’s own Odd Future Records.
Sid Sriram has been on a roll recently, releasing a great cover of Frank Ocean‘s “We All Try” (watch that here). To follow up, he has released yet another fantastic cover, this time choosing to perform his take on The Weeknd‘s “High For This”. Complete with live instrumentation, Sid’s voice really shines here. You can download the song or watch the video below.
Tyler, the Creator‘s Goblin receives its second set of visuals in the form of the Frank Ocean featuring track “She”. In his first video (for the song “Yonkers”), Tyler ate a cockroach, puked, and then hung himself, but today, he and his Odd Future friends return by creeping on the new girl on the block. You can watch the music video below.
Odd Future‘s Frank Ocean has released visuals to “Acura Integurl”, which features the 24 year old singer driving around town in an Acura MSX. $90k seems to be no big deal to Mr. Ocean, now that Def Jam is finally taking him seriously and will be rereleasing his album Nostalgia, Ultra. Check out the music video below.