Wednesday, 8 August 2012
REVIEW: FRANK OCEAN-CHANNEL ORANGE
Orange is the color.
If you watched the throne with Jay-Z and Kanye West last year you will have been introduced to the next great R&B songwriter Frank Ocean. He was all over the album like unconventional samples, book-ending the classic with hooks that lined and made the incredible tracks 'No Church In The Wild' and 'Made It In America'. The spirited talent who has ghostwritten for the likes of Brandy, Justin Bieber, and John Legend is more than the new Ne-Yo with a matrix of talent. He is the one. Still it was his work with OFWGKTA that have given this guy a future as well as the magnificent Stanley Kubrick referenced, directed mixtape 'Nostalgia, Ultra,'. Frank recently wrote an open letter on his Tumblr about having feelings for another man when he was 19. It was a bold, brave and beautiful move in an industry that has been accused of being homophobic and shows just how much courage this strong, young man has. Now after all this hype comes the biggest and most, hotly anticipated album of the year...and it's worth the buzz.
Tune in to 'Channel ORANGE' because to be Frank this kid has Oceans of talent. The genre traversed traveler explores themes of electro and jazz-funk, psychedelic pop/soul music while presenting us with a relationship diary record complete with interludes and intrigue. The imagery on this vivid sonic piece is in bloom for the singers boom time. We've been excited for this album ever since Ocean revealed on the great 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' he was no longer tiding us by by releasing it early. The lead single 'Thinkin Bout You' is one of not just the best R&B, but the best overall singles this year for mainstream minds. As soon as the lyrics "A tornado flew around my room before you came/Excuse the mess it made, it usually doesn't rain/In Southern California, much like Arizona/My eyes don't shed tears, but, boy, they bawl" kick in over the snares you know this kids going to be a huge star.
Just like the Cleopatra referencing second single 'Pyramids' which really is a wonder switching atmospherically between guitar and sax and Prince influences as the artist known as Orange goes deep and decadent. Ocean gets even more lyrical with lines like "The jewel of Africa/What good is a jewel that ain't still precious?/How could you run off on me? How could you run off on us?/You feel like God inside that gold/I found you laying down with Samson and his full head of hair/Found my black queen Cleopatra, bad dreams, Cleopatra", before repeating "working at the Pyramid" over building beats. It's late night, Las Vegas haunting and the best thing this album has to offer apart from the out of this world, Neptune, Pharrell production collabo of the beautiful 'Sweet Life' and the albums real highlight.
"Too many bottles of this wine we cant pronounce/too many bowls of that green no lucky charms/the maids come around/too much parents ain't around enough/too many joy rides in daddy's Jaguar/too many white lies and white lines/super rich kids with nothing but loose ends" starts the lyrical and beat addictive classic 'Super Rich Kids' with a well worn feature from Earl Sweatshirt. This is the self introspective, shallow others scathing classic that is the anthem for socially-conscious youth. As Frank gets real frank singing "Real love/I'm searching for that real love", you're right there with him wondering in amazement.
It doesn't end there. Organic musical interludes like 'Fertilizer' help this album grow as does an incredible incremental break from guitar hero John Mayer ('White') extending his own legend. The diamond cut of 'Sierra Leone' and the meaning mined on 'Not Just Money' is truly inspired. 'Lost' is a real find while 'Monks' and the cinematic 'Forrest Gump' keep this album running and running like 'Crack Rock' and 'Pilot Jones'. This laid back, chilled at times, slow burner gets real big and bold to close with two top collabos after the heaven sent, thought-provoking 'Bad Religion'. Industry friend Tyler, The Creator helps the shine of 'Golden Girl', while hip-hop legend Andre 3000 gives another one of his classic feature presentations on 'Pink Matter'. Still, even with raps like "By dinner Mr. Benjamin was sittin in awe/Hopped into my car drove far/Far’s too close & I remember/My memories no sharp/Butter knife what a life anyway/I’m building y’all a clock stop" it's Frank Ocean that stands out above one of hip-hop's biggest stars. The man that could have made himself an outcast has declared himself to the world and made himself outstanding. There's no skipping or channel-hopping with Orange. Ocean is in control now leaving the competition remote. This kids more than watching the throne...he's made it in America. TIM DAVID HARVEY.