Well Frank Ocean has had himself a big week. The Odd Future crooner’s much-talked about Tumblr post, brought forth by feverishly spread on-line speculation and putting into beautifully poetic words a heart-aching tale of a first love that also happened to involve someone of the same sex, sparked all kinds of fascinating discussions. From the inevitable “What It All Means” think-pieces concerning homophobia in hip hop, publicity stunt accusations, and how Frank Ocean’s career would be affected from here on out (not to mention the wavering opinions of what Frank even came out as), to the touchingly supportive lauds that bubbled forth from many different corners of the entertainment community and social media audiences peppered with the many insta-revolts from those who, sadly, decided that a bisexual singer was one that shouldn’t be a part of their music collection anymore, the personal reveal was, whatever the reaction, a pretty explosive one.
Add this small section of the World Wide Web to the group greatly appreciative of and moved by Frank’s honesty and bravery, the news only helping to make us deeper fans of an artist who, in a relatively short amount of time and with a fairly small catalog so far, has increasingly felt like one of music’s future greats, one of those rare special talents to come around destined for the many Greatest/ Best/ Most Influential (Whatever) lists to arise in the years to come. And if early reports from those who have heard it can be trusted, Ocean’s long-awaited major label debut Channel Orange (due July 17th), could very well be the thing to bring waves more onto the same thought wavelength.
Following the ten-minute long, time-travelling epic “Pyramids”, Orange‘s recently unleashed second preview “Sweet Life” finds Ocean working his captivating now-generation R&B magic in half of the length.
Co-written and co-produced by Pharrell Williams, “Life” offers a fittingly “sweet” vintage soul soundbed of tingling piano, sunny blasts of synth-horns and some jazzy-cool bass burbles that wouldn’t sound out of place in the rich tapestry of classic-era Stevie Wonder (or, well, a Neptunes/ Pharrell album), all to help illustrate a lavishly idealistic existence of wealth, beautiful settings and “landscapers” and “housekeepers” where one could easily spend their days away blissfully hiding away from life’s grim realities.
Or at least that’s one way to interpret the lyric sheet, which, as is so often the case with Frank, is filled with multiple ideas and poetics so amazingly clever, complex and colorful (“So why see the world, when you got the beach?”; The best song wasn’t the single, but you weren’t either”; “Domesticated paradise, palm trees and pools/ The water’s blue, swallow the pill” and, our favorite, “My TV ain’t HD/ That’s too real”), one could probably spend a lifetime trying to figure out its true meaning and still not completely break the code in the end.
Keeping the Ocean love going, check out this fresh out of the oven cover of Frank’s nu-Quiet Storm classic “Thinking About You”, nicely handled by Nite Jewel and Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Nicholas Krgovich.