Frank Ocean addresses his sexuality days before the release of his debut LP Channel Orange.
Frank Ocean the 24 year old, New Orleans native has been in the headlines lately for his recent choice to come out of the closet to the public via a beautifully written letter posted on Tumblr. I am sure what you want to know (and I am sure Frank does too) is whether this will damage the soaring trajectory of his music career? Particularly given the upcoming release of his debut LP Channel Orange due to drop July 17th 2012 featuring his latest impressive single “Sweet Life.”
In my opinion Ocean is very brave for revealing his preference for men as an a) black man; and b) as a successful hip hop/R&B artist. The hip hop industry glorifies heterosexual men and generally sexually (not all the time) objectifies women. According to The New York Times ‘no other mainstream R&B artists have acknowledged having homosexual relationships. ‘
Fortunately heavy hitters in the hip hop community have offered words of support for Ocean’s bold choice including Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, Joie Manda (President of Def Jam), Solange Knowles and Rita Ora.
However, it would be remiss of me not to mention Frank Ocean did receive a lot of hateful tweets on Twitter. Despite this, the response from the hip hop community and public at large has by majority been positive and this acceptance definitely comes at a time where supporting gay rights, gay marriage/unions is somewhat of a global movement being heralded by people such as the most influential leader in the world – President Obama.
Time will tell whether his career will suffer as a result of his announcement – album sales of Channel Orange will be an immediate gauge. Sure, he may lose some fans – but what’s that to a life of ensuring your lyrical content reflects a union that doesn’t truly represent what’s in your heart and soul? Essentially lying to himself for the sake of appeasing the industry and world. What a burden to bear.
It is my hope that Ocean’s actions have now opened the door, set a precedent for other closeted homosexual men in the music industry to come out if they wish to.
I think fellow blogger Kid Fury expresses my views best in the below video:
I have loved Frank Ocean’s music from the moment I heard it (he has released a mixtape last year titled Nostalgia,Ultra an unofficial was released too which I fell head over heels for titled Dream Killa) – it was like a breath of fresh air – a hybrid of all things good in soul, R&B, hip hop and indie. The content – beautiful, sad, relatable. I hadn’t heard anything quite like Ocean well, ever. You can imagine my delight to hear he was coming out with a new titled LP Channel Orange.
Weeks ago he released a new track titled “Pyramids” about love in the stripclub. Days after coming out, he released on Tumblr his latest song from Channel Orange titled “Sweet Life” produced by legendary Pharrell.
The tracks are distinctively different – “Pyramids“ is synth heavy while “Sweet Life” is R&B hitting and instrumental his voice giving me ol’ skool Dwele.
I am in love with “Sweet Life.” This hit will be a sure fire summer hit with lyrics referring to the beach, mango, peaches and lime. The track depicts a person living an idealistic or non-realistic life by the beach with all the luxuries of life – but choosing not to look at the true ugliness of the world, living in ignorance – preferring the ‘sweet life.’
Co-writer and producer of Channel Orange Malay spoke in an interview with Complex Music about what you could expect from the upcoming LP:
What songs are you most excited for people to hear?
To tell the truth, Pink Floyd and those types of artists were my inspiration to even get involved in music in the first place. Through the years, you always look back. Even Marvin Gaye records, where they had these conceptual records that were more of a whole body of work and I was always like “Man, I wish somebody could do something like that.” So to me, I’m most proud of the entire thing, because it is a body of work.
What other albums inspired Channel Orange? Would Frank bring up other classic songs as references?
Definitely. At many points, Sly and the Family Stone, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, all kind of stuff like that. Listening to our heroes and more reference points, or sometimes just to create a mood. It’s like “Hey, let’s listen to a couple of these Stevie songs and vibe out and see what we come up with.” It may not sound anything like the Stevie song, but just creatively be inspired.
John Mayer is on “Pyramids” and “White”?
Yeah. The version of “White” that’s on the album is more of an interlude. If you’re familiar with the song from the Odd Future record, it ends on the instrumental thing. So we basically took that, we went into the studio with some live musicians and tracked this super-vibey thing. We just played John a bunch of records from the album and saw what inspired him to want to get involved and we got him to kind of vibe out on a couple things. Once we made the final cuts and final edits and everything, those are the things that help the album elevate, those last little touches from people like John.
Who else came through?
I think it was already public that he had met with Kanye [West] and everyone kind of expected maybe that collaboration just based on his contributions to Watch the Throne. I think the contributions from Kanye’s side became more of a mentorship situation where it’s like, “This record is amazing. It’s incredible. Let me help you out in other ways. Let me connect you with my visual people” and just having that cosign and that support.
How did “Pink Matter” with Andre 3000 come about?
It was just a simple thing. There came a point when we knew we were getting close to wrapping the record. Frank was kind of narrowing down who he wanted features from. We knew we didn’t want to make it a record full of a whole bunch of big name collaborators just for the sake of having them. We were just really trying to decide who we could bring to this project that’s going to elevate the overall project.
That record’s an incredible song and it’s a lot of people’s favorite record when they’ve heard the album. And with a name like that you’d think it’d be a single type song or something. But if you listen to it it’s probably the opposite of that. It’s that record that’s everybody’s favorite song on the album but it’s not the single. That’s showing where Frank really is at. He’s strictly doing it for the art. It’s not about, “Hey, this is going to help sales.”
Peep the track listing below:
Listen to “Sweet Life” below:
If you like the sounds of “Sweet Life” I encourage you to download (for free) Ocean’s mixtapes by clicking on the below titles:
Nostalgia, Ultra (official)
Dream Killa (unofficial – but my favourite)
What are YOUR views on Frank Ocean coming out?
What do you think of his new song “Sweet Life” and will you be picking up Channel Orange? Comment below!