By Danielle O’Neill
Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel ORANGE, a mind-blowingly revelation of nostalgia, narcotics and narcissism is without a doubt the “King Kong” of genre transcending phenomena to have shaken the music world.
The album is fusion of new-age R&B and bass-thumpingly good beats. Ocean’s master-crafted album shows that the tides have indeed changed in the industry, that R&B has moved away from the “This is how we do it” baggy-pants and bad hairdo’s 90s R&B coined by precedents like Montell Jordan and Mary J. Blidge.
The album itself is a beautiful juxtaposition of sumptuous vocals, fearless revelations of sex, drugs and disillusionment, fame and emotional enlightenment.
Ocean’s lyrics are poignant yet potent. Blues guitar riffs and blue-eyed soul alongside synthesized beats, and nostalgically dreamy vocals serves as proof of Ocean’s uninhibited experimental genius with instrumentation beyond the slow-dying R&B realm.
The melancholic mix of poetic verses on featured tracks like “Thinking about you” and “Swim Good”, flawlessly unconventional production featured throughout the album, and collaborations with Andre 3000, John Mayer and Pharell Williams is another part of what makes Ocean the modern Mohamed Ali among his industry contemporaries. From the Stevie Wonder-esque inspired track “Sweet Life”, sampling Mary J. Blidge’s “Real love”, and even referencing Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on the track “Lost”, is what makes Channel ORANGE pure musical genius.
The album features 17 tracks, among which it is hard to find a single one that makes your skin crawl. The psychedelic production and disturbingly good song writing make for a cohesive, melodically sophisticated debut.
Digitally released a week before on his Tumblr account, Channel ORANGE features songs for every kind of Ocean fanatic, critic and even the “non-believers” – which he addresses on his Grammy Award winning collaboration, “No Church in the Wild“, with Hip-Hop power houses, Jay-Z and Kanye West.
It is the type of album that makes you want to drive down a free-way in contemplation of your existence, complimented by a song menu that will have you reminiscing on past loves and losses. “The lyrics speak to a love that doesn’t just have a problem with names, but doesn’t entirely believe itself.” – The New Yorker.
If Ocean’s prior released mixtape Nostalgia was the introduction to the silhouetted brunette who had everyone falling for her, Channel ORANGE is definitely the beautiful, soul-baring confession of all her love turmoils, existential woes and daddy issues.