Arts & Entertainment
Frank Ocean: More Than Just a Man-Lover
By Chris Azzopardi
Originally printed 7/26/2012 (Issue 2030 - Between The Lines News)
Even if Frank Ocean hadn't recently acknowledged that he's an equal-opportunity lover, becoming one of the first major hip-hop artists to come out, his very personal major-label debut, "channel ORANGE," doesn't hide a thing: He's living it up with a lady on "Super Rich Kids," but he's sad that his man doesn't love him back on the sorrowful "Bad Religion" - the ex he referenced to the press.
Not only is his storytelling strewn with poetic vividness about a lonesome taxi ride and the feeling of "steak knives," but when his tenor - over an escalating instrumental palette - hits a vulnerable falsetto, he breaks you into pieces. The rest of Ocean's remarkable work stays away from R&B conventions, too: "Sweet Life" grooves with an old-time feeling that's got hit power without bringing bitches and hoes into the mix; "Forrest Gump" is a bittersweet confessional about, presumably, the same boy who has his heart; "Lost," percolating with gaming-noise blips, is sexy, liberating and good enough to go on for another five minutes.
His influences are everywhere, from classic Mary J. Blige references to the Stevie Wonder and Prince sounds that are heard in the caramel-smoothness of his voice. But this is obviously Ocean's moment, as the 24-year-old who once guested for Jay-Z and wrote for Beyonce steps into superstardom.
The album shot to No. 2 on the pop charts in its first week, and rightfully so: "channel ORANGE" is a soul-baring piece of hip-hop art. And that has nothing to do with who's in his bed at night.Ocean will perform at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit. For more information, visit http://www.frankocean.com.
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