Uglyboy Album Review
Frank Ocean- channel ORANGE
For those of you (me included) not that clued up on Frank Oceans meteoric rise to prominence in the music world, here is a little introduction.
Christopher Francis Ocean (born Christopher “Lonny” Breaux), better known by his stage name Frank Ocean, is an American singer-songwriter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Ocean made an early career as a ghostwriter for artists such as Brandy, Justin Bieber, and John Legend. In 2010, he became a member (to my surprise) of the controversial movement, Odd future and his debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, was released the following year to critical acclaim. He released two singles: ‘Novacane’ and ‘Swim Good’, which both achieved chart success. The mixtape gained the interest of recording artists such as, Beyoncé (co-writing miss you) and he consequently appeared on Jay-z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne album featuring on “No church in the wild”. Yet despite Oceans “A-List” collaborations, his undoubted talent was still yet to receive much mainstream success. A feat many underground listeners wish would remain for as long as possible.
Now Fast-forward only a matter of weeks, and prior to channel ORANGES July 2012 release Oceans decides its time, he revealed certain revelations in his private-life, that being he was Bisexual. Now in any other walks of life, or professions (other the sports) when a male in the public limelight finally decides to “come out” so to say, it’s doesn’t really cause as much of a vibrations in the media. “I’m thinking that Geordie X-factor dude and err…. Will Young” (scratching the surface a bit here, I know)
However, when a black male from the world of Hip Hop and RnB decides to reveal he is gay, especially one so young (given Ocean is 23), its sends out shockwaves across the internet. As a result, everybody now seems to have an opinion about this relatively ‘underground’ crooner.
Now everyone will have their own opinion on Frank Oceans sexuality, which they’re entitled to of course , but me I’d rather just judge the music for it is, and take Frank for what he is, a very talented and innovative singer/songwriter who’s single handily going to change the face and sound of Soul and RnB music forever. Given that ringing endorsement (and the fact I love his album) the cynic in me, has to question the whole timing of ‘coming out’ prior to your album release. Was this a clear and controversial plan to try and create anarchy in the media and social networking sites alike? Or just a coincidence and ultimately the right time to stop living a lie? I’ll let you be the judge of that. Given that, I still think it was very brave of Ocean to come out, and stand up for his rights, as a Gay/Bisexual Black male living and working in the fickle world, that is the music business.
All the controversy aside, I must say, personally Oceans channel ORANGE sounds like nothing I ever heard before! As from the outset, the listener is taken on a euphoric journey of silky electro-soul coupled with story-based lyrical content, usually attributed to ‘real life rappers’ like Common, Nas and your Mos Def’s. The minute you start listening you get a ‘front row seat’ into Franks innermost deepest thoughts on tracks like Thinking Bout You, Super Rich Kids (feat Earl Sweatshirt) and Crack Rock. It’s the latter two that like the titles will indicate, highlight the influence of recreation drug use in, not only his society but that of the society were kids are rocking $3000 dollar handbags stunting in there Daddies Jaguar. Despite covering these somewhat controversial topics in his music, it’s easy to why Ocean has gaining such a cult following and now a mainstream one too. As his constantly reminds us of his youthful expression in his lyrics that are equally disjointed as they are mischievous. A trait that endears the listener, like on the oddly named Monks where Frank sings about “African girl, speaks with an English accent likes to fuck boys in bands” and in another breath he refers to “Monks in the mosh pit, stage jumping Dalai Lamas”.
For me though its standout tracks like Lost, Pyramids and Golden Girl that will appeal to conventional lovers of Soul and RnB as Frank tries to show us his almost mainstream sounding records that have single written all over them. In addition, I suppose the fact all three are clearly covering topics about women, will no doubt appeal to the more “homophobic listeners” out there, come the time the record label and Frank decide on mainstream singles. Again, this could be the cynic in me.
In conclusion, Channel ORANGE is a direct reflection of the man Frank Ocean is becoming. There are moments of assured clarity, mischief and flashes of childlike shyness. What the album is, is a solid collection of ‘new age’ pop-soul, which Ocean tries to find himself whilst taking us on a journey of maturation and growing pains.
channel ORANGE a must listen and a real grower!!
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