Lookbacks: Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

Since Frank did not drop his much anticipated sophomore album Boys Don’t Cry today LIKE HE SAID HE WOULD. I decided to make this week’s Lookback his critically acclaimed debut Channel Orange.

Photo Courtesy of Vibe
Photo Courtesy of Vibe

Channel Orange received an A rating from AV Club, a 9.5/10 from Pitchfork, a 4/5 star rating from Rolling Stone, and a 9/10 from Spin Magazine.

As a debut studio album receiving that much acclaim from some of the toughest critics out there, the album has to be pretty damn good, and that it is.

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Ocean named Channel Orange after a reference to the color he envisioned the summer he first fell in love.  That being said, it is revealed later on that Ocean comes out as openly bisexual on the track “Bad Religion”, and for that I applaud him.

Ocean became the first mainstream African-American musician to openly come out as liking a person of the same sex.

Channel Orange is a concept album in which Ocean touches on themes such as drug use to hopeless love. That’s what makes this album so unique, the fact that Ocean pours his heart out into one phenomenal album.

Five singles were released prior to the album being released in July of 2012. The album’s lead single “Thinkin Bout You” is now certified platinum, but the other four singles “Sweet Life”, “Super Rich Kids”, “Pyramids”, and “Lost” don’t fall far behind.

Every track on this album tells a story, tracks like “Super Rich Kids” (featuring Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt) tell a story of a wealthy kid ignored by his parents who eventually falls off of a roof (listen to the track and you’ll understand better). “Pyramids” tells a story of a pimp falling in love with one of his clients. “Lost” tells the story of a man dealing with his cocaine cooking girlfriend. “Sweet Life” is a narrative about people living their lives on the beach, a life Ocean expresses he does not want to life.

Channel Orange contains in-depth stories along with short snippets and interludes like “Fertilizer”, a 30 second track (which I absolutely love) which is Ocean’s rendition of James Faultleroy’s song of the same name.

Two tracks that I would really like to focus on that really outline Ocean’s style is “Bad Religion” and “Pink Matter (ft. Andre 3000)”.

“Pink Matter” is a great example of why I love Ocean’s musical style. His vocals have so much emotion they burst through the confines of the harmony into something more. “Pink Matter” presents a build, a build that results in the listener going into a state of awe over the power of his melody. It’s incredible.

“Bad Religion” is a great track because Ocean goes to what seems like the depths of his soul to tell the listener how his love for another man was never returned. That raw emotion and storytelling is what makes Ocean an artist that I will always respect.

I believe this week’s lookback is one everyone should listen to, regardless of what genre you’re into, allow Frank Ocean to take you on a journey through his thoughts and emotions.

You can download Channel Orange on iTunes and Amazon. You can also stream it below.

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