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.
You guys have come a long way since releasing 2010’s Undeclared. What’s been the biggest change for you guys in terms of your music career?
Definitely the release of The Drive In. That was our breaking point and took us to a new level. The buzz we got off of that, an average artist would get from two to three well-marketed mixtapes.
When we released The Drive In and followed it up with the Pledge To Rage tour we got a sense of the appreciation for the project and really connected with our audience. It’s been a lot more personal ever since.
How did you balance school and music when The Dean’s List really started picking up?
It was definitely late nights and a lot of work. Some of us were still working one or two full time jobs as well. We really had to prioritize things and there were late nights with homework and what not, but it came to the point where we started to make a living off The Dean’s List and that became a priority.
We didn’t feel that the courses we were taking were really teaching us the modern music industry and were learning more on our own so we figured we should go more in that direction.
How hard do you think it is to stand out as an artist nowadays, when anyone can pick up a mic or a computer and start making their own music?
It is definitely really tough. People try hard to emulate an artist they look up and that often leads to copying them. A lot of people lack original material and just become a mimic of their favorite artist. We think you have to listen to a lot of different music and make YOUR music. It’s important to stay true to what you want to do and not be phony or fake.
What are you guys listening to right now?
Right now we are definitely listening to a lot of Florence & The Machine, Kanye & Jay-Z, John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix, classical music, Bob Dylan, The Beatles… and we listen to this type of music because there is more that goes into it and that is what we are looking to develop with our sounds. It’s more evolved than a rapper rapping over a beat.
What’s your favorite Dean’s List song so far?
Mik: I would have to say “La Vie.” I worked really hard on the mix for that, a lot of these techno tracks we can do a lot of production but it’s the mix that really brings it together.
Sonny: My favorite song to date is “The Dream” because it’s the most honest, and a very self-motivating song to me.
Mendoza: I would say “Burn It All” or “Dear Professor,” they have great stories behind them and were big songs for us. They are always great to perform and people recognize the song as soon as it drops.
If your new album Generation X were a person, who would it be?
It would be a hybrid between Will Smith, Steve Jobs and JFK.
Why did you choose to name the album Generation X?
The album Generation X really stemmed from the fact that we had the generation before us and we are a product of them and those that came before them. The melting pot that leads to us.
You guys just recently released “Youth”. How did you guys decide on using that song as the lead single?
It really fits what we are trying to accomplish. A big thing we discuss and stand for is the youth of our generation. Not giving a fuck is a theme of Generation X and this song represents a few sides of that mentality.
Will there be any samples on the new record? “Dear Professor” found a lot of love when it was released.
There will be songs in there that sound like there might be samples but they are actually not. We manipulated things to make them more us. There will be no samples on the album!
I’ve heard that a Dean’s List clothing line is now in the works. Can you provide any details about that and what we can expect to see?
We’re working with a lot of different artists. One of the main ones we’re working with is called Bandulu as well as Mendoza’s grandfather, who is an artist in a New Mexico. We are going to put a stylish twist on our merchandise and not make it just a “band store,” but something that stands alone and makes a statement. The clothes will be something our fans can feel a part of and represents them.
What are your next plans for your music?
There will be a lot of music videos off of Generation X. It’s all about Gen X now! We plan to do a video for every song.
Thanks for taking the time to talk. Any last words?
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If you can’t tell, Hov is an extremely proud father, calling Blue his “greatest creation” and “a younger, smarter, faster me.” It’s a beautiful tribute and to make things just a bit sweeter, Baby Blue already has her first feature credit! Our best wishes go out to Jay-Z and Beyonce.
I mean, this is the same man who almost died in a near-fatal car crash and recorded his very first single two weeks later with his mouth wired shut. This is the man who has repeatedly stood up for his own work after losing out in major award shows. And finally, this is the man who raps about Manolo and Guiseppi Zanotti (seriously… Google that).
So you know it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to look behind the scenes of Kanye and Jay-Z‘s Watch the Throne tour. If you can’t (or simply don’t want to) watch Ye and Jay perform “N—as in Paris” eight times in a row with Kanye wearing a kilt, you can at least see what goes on in his head, away from the lights and away from the fame. It’s insightful and for the first episode, it’s also free. Watch here.
More information about VoyR after the break. You can also watch footage of “N—as in Paris” being played eight times in a row, taken from the Chicago show.
“There are music fans. And there are true fans. Which one are you? Fans download the single. True fans know the whole album. Fans trip on the myth. True fans understand the reality.
VOYR is your all-access pass to behind the scenes at Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne tour. It’s a daily video document of all of the actual hard work that goes into living life at Kanye’s level. It’s not about models and bottles. It’s about working hard, from the moment the sun rises, until you just can’t push your body any further. If you want hype, just stay with the music mags and blogs that you already read. If you want to understand the reality of this business from the inside, come inside. We’ve got a seat for you.
Five episodes a week. Live from the tour. And you’ll join a community of hustlers that understand how the industry works and are ready to take their involvement to the next level.
This is just the beginning. Join us.”
With help from Sufjan Stevens (his song “Redford” inspired the character’s name), Just Blaze, Big K.R.I.T., and more, The Roots’ first attempt at a concept album is an inspiring and beautiful piece of work. You can listen to the whole thing at NPR right now, with the album available in stores everywhere on December 6th via Def Jam.
01. The Un
03. Make My (feat. Big K.R.I.T.)
04. One Time (feat. Phonte & Dice Raw)
05. Kool On (feat. P.O.R.N.)
06. The Other Side
07. Stomp (feat. P.O.R.N.)
09. I Remember
10. Tip The Scale
11. Redford (For Yia Yia & Pappou)
13. Will To Power
Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably already heard about the hip hop superduo of frequent collaborators Kanye West and Jay-Z and their first full album together, Watch The Throne. Well, now you can finally “watch the throne” in high quality from your very own home, as Montreality has posted HD footage of the duo’s energetic performance in Montreal.
After watching a few questions remain on my mind: is this mainly a Kanye show? Or is it Hov’s show? Was it worth such a high cost? And is Kanye wearing a skirt?
Check it out for yourself below.