Frank Ocean's Album: Channel ORANGE
Posted by Ryan J. Beard on Sep 20, 2012 - 11:18:07 AM
LOS ANGELES—You’ve probably already heard, and if you haven’t, then
listen carefully: R&B vocalist Frank Ocean’s new album channel ORANGE is
very, very good. You’ve most likely already heard Frank Ocean at some point,
whether it was his own voice or not.
After Katrina hit New Orleans, the
Louisiana native left his dorm at the University of New Orleans and headed for
Los Angeles to give music a shot. After cutting a Demo CD and handing it out
around town, Ocean landed songwriting gigs for artists including Brandy, John Legend,
and Justin Bieber.
Ocean gained notoriety as a songwriter and was signed by Def
Jam in 2009 as an individual artist. In early 2011, while working with Odd
Future, Ocean released the mixtape Nostalgia via his Tumblr account. Later that
year, he appeared as a featured artist on Beyonce’s 4, Tyler the Creator’s
Goblin, and Jay-Z/Kanye West’s Watch the Throne. Def Jam released two singles
off Ocean’s mixtape including “Novacane” and “Swim Good” which reached 17 and
70 respectively on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Now, after help from
fellow producers Pharrell Williams, Malay, and Om’Mas Keith, we are left with
channel ORANGE for our ear’s enjoyment.
The heartbreaking opening track, “Thinkin’ Bout You,”
reminisces about a first love as Ocean demonstrates his range, from smooth
verse vocals to a falsetto that will raise goose bumps the first time heard.
Ocean demonstrates his writing ability with heartfelt lyrics, pouring his
emotions into the track as he sings “It will never get old, not in my soul, not
in my spirit, keep it alive, we'll go down this road 'til it turns from color
to black and white.”
“Super Rich Kids” will have you nodding
your head with your eyes closed, and while the feeling of the song may have you tapping your toes,
the lyrics deal with much more serious matters. Ocean examines the life of a
super rich kid: “Too many joy rides in daddy’s Jaguar, too many white lies and white lines.” The themes
deal with white-collar drugs, rebelling against parents who aren’t around, and
pretension. The song contrasts the interlude “Not Just Money” where a mother
scolds her son, explaining the necessity for money in order to live
The nearly ten minute ballad titled “Pyramids” tells
of Ocean’s encounter with a modern day Cleopatra who is “working at the pyramid
tonight.” The beautifully written song will keep you on the edge of your seat
if you’re listening carefully, yet the production of the song yields to a
larger audience than musical connoisseurs, and is sure to be heard in your
favorite club. Concluding the song is a mystical guitar solo done by none other
than John Mayer.
I’ve merely scratched the surface of this album. To fully
comprehend its depth, themes, and greatness, you really have to take the time
and listen to the 17 long track debut album for yourself. I promise you will
not be disappointed. Frank Ocean has made a grand entrance to the music
industry with channel ORANGE, one of the best debut albums of 2012.
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