We have had a wealth of album and shows to cover this past month and a half, and unfortunately in the hustle and bustle of things, we weren’t able to review Channel Orange, the debut album from new R&B sensation Frank Ocean. Suffice it to say, I am in love with the album and Frank Ocean himself who comes off as a wonderfully mix of Stevie Wonder, Prince, and which is interesting since I was only luke-warm on his debut mixtape nostalgia, ULTRA and I really don’t care for Odd Future, the young, brash Los Angeles hip hop collaborative he is from. I think Odd Future are mostly novelty for their shock and awe antics and are more media sensation than lasting talent (even if there is no doubt some there). But Frank Ocean has more honesty and soul than the rest of Odd Future combined, free from the showy behavior and disturbing lyrics. So here are five Frank Ocean tracks to highlight this young promising talent.
“No Church In The Wild”
Sure this song has worked its way into every movie trailer in the past year and is a little worn from it, but Ocean delivers quite the hook here. This opening cut to Watch the Throne sort of announced Frank Ocean to the larger music world, and I think it well captures Ocean’s beautifully calm voice amidst the storm of Jay and Ye.
My favorite song off nostalgia, ULTRA , “Lovecrimes” grooves with the best of them, but also has the melodrama to keep your attention. It also never hurts to close your song with a Nicole Kidman quote from Eyes Wide Shut.
Ok, so I couldn’t help myself. No, this is not Frank Ocean; it’s Carribbean adult-contemporary icon Billy Ocean. But I like to imagine that Frank Ocean is Billy’s most prized offspring, musically and physically, even if there isn’t an ounce of truth to it. Love Crime. Love Zone. What’s the difference?
Right before the release of Channel Orange, Frank Ocean came out as a bisexual on his Tumblr page, specifically writing about a past relationship he had with a man whom didn’t return the love. “Bad Religion” appears to be about such a relationship, and the toxic nature of being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, set to a delicate organ and strings beautifully accenting Ocean’s confessional style delivery.
“Super Rich Kids (Ft. Earl Sweatshirt)”
“Super Rich Kids” has that unmistakable slow piano strut of Elton John’s classic “Bennie and the Jets”, but rather than singing about a fictional band as a satire on the music industry, Ocean sings about the emptiness that is the glitz and glamour of growing up in upper class California. Ocean croons with such involved detail on the lives of both the rich and poor in a way that feels empathetic and true. Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt also delivers one of only of two guest verses on the album (the other being Andre 3000), with the wordplay and swagger to make for a near perfect verse.
Well there is our much delayed Ocean love. For more of Frank Ocean, check out my 15 song playlist on Spotify.