Thursday, July 26, 2012

[Album Review] Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE

Disclaimer: The following review is for Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE not his private life. At the same time it wouldn’t be right nor fair to just completely ignore his recent revelation. I will just say this. I don’t personally have an opinion, rather I don’t care. Music is music. Wither the person is gay, straight, white or black. As long as the music is good, I’m good. Now on to the review itself.

Before I speak on the album, I want to speak on my personal history with Frank’s music. I first heard Frank on the MellowHype tracks “Hell” and “Rico” from their BlackenedWhite album. At that point in time, I was such a huge Odd Future fan that Taco could’ve sung the hooks and I still would’ve liked those songs. Fast forward a couple of months later to the release of nostalgia, ULTRA there is a lot of hype around Frank. "Novacane" is starting to get play on the radio, yet I still haven’t actually listened to the project.

A few more months pass and a good lady friend of mine convinces (bothers) me to listen to the project. So that night I downloaded the it and gave it a listen. As I was listening I couldn’t help but think about (no pun intended) how boring it was. The tracks were long and drawn out, I don’t really even like singers to begin with, so all that compiled into to me just hating on it. As me and my friend talked the next day about my listening experience, she naturally asked me “Did you like it?”, I simply responded “No” and that was it.

I ask that you bear with me, as we go on this little journey into the past. Fast forward and for the last time, to the release of the Odd Future Tape Vol.2 by now the hype has died down on both Frank Ocean and Odd Future. Earl Sweatshirt is finally home and releasing tracks, all seems well. As I begin listening to the album, I find myself liking and disliking tracks but as a whole nothing has stood out to me. That is until I heard Frank Ocean’s solo track “White” backed by a minimalistic beat from Tyler. Frank sings about earth, light, talking trees, and ends it with a metaphor that’s outta this world. In comes the horns and the beat continually plays until it fades away.  This is the point where I realized “Damn. Frank Ocean can really fucking sing”.

The time now is, present day. Frank Ocean has made his revelation and has finally released his long awaited debut channel ORANGE. I don’t want to make this a track-by-track review so I’ll talk about the album as a whole and touch on a few tracks. The album itself is simply amazing, from the production to the lyrical content and of course the singing. “Thinkin Bout You” the lead single from the album represents the most “mainstream” sound you’ll hear on the album, although the excellent writing sets it apart from most love songs. Tracks such as “Sweet Life” and “Super Rich Kids” (featuring a lackluster Earl Sweatshirt verse) deal with the lavish lifestyle of the rich which can both be dangerous and alluring at the same time.

My personal favorite “Crack Rock” and “Pilot Jones” deal with drugs the latter being a tale of a crack fiend who doesn’t realize “how little you matter, until you’re all alone”. “Pyramids” is an experience all unique to itself, the first half of the track is an electro-pop esque upbeat tune. The second portion however, is a bouncy and melodic strip club theme that tells a tale of a woman who is “working at the Pyramid tonight”. The Andre 3000 featured “Pink Matter” is another personal favorite with 3000 dropping another superb guest verse, something that he has become known for in the last couple of years. The only thing that disappointed me was the fact that an acapella version of “White” with John Mayer playing the guitar, similar to what Stevie Wonder did for Drake’s “Doing It Wrong” only with the harmonica, was featured instead of the original. Lastly, the songs “Bad Religion” and “Forrest Gump” deal with Frank’s past first love, the former being about “unrequited love” and the fact that Frank feels “I can never make him love me. Never make him love me.” and the latter touching on Frank’s personal experiences with his first love.

To wrap this review up, channel ORANGE is an amazing album. At least Top 5 releases this year and shows why Frank Ocean is one of the most creative artist to come along in a while. However, I do not think it is the instant classic, as most seem to be labeling it. I do think in a few years or so it will be looked back on and deservingly so, as a classic album by a great artist. I expect Frank Ocean to continue to make amazing music in the future and to even top his debut release. With all that being said, channel ORANGE is another testament to the artistry of Frank Ocean and a fine example of what a truly classic album could be.