Monday, July 9, 2012
First Impressions: Frank Ocean Enjoys The Sweet Life
Frank Ocean's name has orbiting around these last few days after he bravely came out by way of a poetic announcement on Independence Day last week. So naturally, it was hard for me to dodge the news. Even if you don't know who he is, or don't consider yourself a fan, you have to admire the guy for taking such a private moment and sharing it with, well, practically everyone---and especially doing so as an R&B/Hip-Hop artist and as a man of his make and era. Considering that the agenda's of the genres Ocean swims in has often been riddled in homophobia and misogynistic views, his coming out is a potential game-changer not only for Ocean's burgeoning career, but also for the current social climate of the R&B/Hip-Hop culture.
In times where we're urging for tolerance (even having a mere child tell us to do so) it has been sort of a refresher to see these changes in attitudes form in the last recent years or so. Though we still have a ways to go, and there will always be trolls living under their own built bridges of ignorance and hate, it's sort of a relief to see more and more people out there who can see past all of the external trimmings, and see the person within---and in Ocean's case---listen without prejudice.
Incidentally, I had planned to re-dive into Ocean before this news even hit, as the due date for his debut album, Channel Orange is encroaching soon. I admit I had been underwhelmed with his mixtape, 2010's Nostalgia, Ultra and didn't latch onto the hype he was receiving, but I figured the Odd Future member's solo work may have evolved and may translate better in album form. Notes of Channel Orange have been making appearances as of late and recently released (and guiltless free to download) is "Sweet Life" and it's the track that has now perked up my ears to Ocean's realm. No surprise really as it's produced by Pharrell Williams, and his producing sorcery always keeps me hypnotized as if I'm Princess Jasmine under the spell of Jafar's snake staff. Ocean's phrasing on this actually draws a slight comparison to Stevie Wonder, and this summery soulful tune is lush and melodic in all the right places. So have I befallen to the hype n' circumstance of Ocean? Maybe. For right now I'm enjoying the "Sweet Life", and looking forward to Ocean proving his longevity with Channel Orange.