Frank Ocean’s clout can be best conveyed by the fact that he has
‘uncredited backing vocals' by Beyoncé in his second album.
Frank Ocean (born Christopher Edwin Cooksey) is an R&B singer, the man
who redefined and re-conceptualized R&B and the man who lifted my
spirits every time I dived head-first into an existential crisis.
Circa 2012, RnB was making a comeback when two artists in particular-
Abel Tesfaye (the Weeknd) and Frank Ocean pushed the boundaries by creating experimental R&B with influences from other genres (electronic music in particular) which created the base to the R&B that we hear now in 2019. Essentially, 2011 to 2012, we saw the release of 3 mixtapes (House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of
Silence) by the Weeknd and Channel Orange by Frank which revolutionized the music industry. The aforementioned albums are unheard of by most people, but the ones who are at the top of their game now, often emphasize the impression they made. While the Weeknd’s music was more about coke-heads living dark unsettling lives, Frank Ocean sung through love and pain in life.
First track in Channel Orange is the noise of surfing channels, symbolizing the start of countless memories he would sing about in the upcoming songs. Most of the songs have muffled percussion and a lot of reverb. Some of the string sections throughout the album is to die for. Another recurring element in his projects is vocal sections with heightened pitch.
His lyricism extends from his life during hurricane Katrina to LGBTQ-positivity.
The lyrics is what one would be drawn to the most. In ‘bad religion’, he compares unrequited love to a one man cult, calling the taxi driver his shrink for the hour. ‘Pink matter’ is a play on brain’s grey matter. An absolutely delightful added bonus is André 3000’s feature.
On his second studio album called Blonde, every song can make you teary-eyed. ‘Ivy’ will make you fall in love again. ‘Pink+white’ will put you in a musical trance for the entirety of 3 minutes. ‘Be yourself’ is a voice note by Frank’s mom which will certainly put you on the right track to college life. ‘Nights’ is a personal favourite which has lyrical rap in the beginning and gets slower and muddier towards the second half replicating a drug high.
Frank has almost no media presence and in return pours his heart out into albums which release once in four years. His mysterious persona draws you towards his albums and leaves you wanting for more. In Frank Ocean’s words, “You ain’t a kid no more, we’ll never be those kids again”.
Make up for lost time by listening to his music.
- Nidhi Isloor