frank ocean – channel orange

this feels to me like a mess of contradictions. vaguely compromising.

i’m happy to admit i was drawn to it by thinkin bout you, and having listened to swim good off the ether-only release nostalgia, ultra (which i won’t include in the 500). they are beautiful and amazingly perceptive songs that stick. it’s worth saying i literally have nothing else like this in the collection.

how to couch it? there’s something a little bit self-reflexive here, like frank has a sort of out-of-body awareness of the shit he’s singing about. in spite of some pretty hardcore themes, it never really feels like he’s singing only for shock value.

mostly, though, the content is still unrelatable. there are a few songs that feature commentary on the opulence and emptiness of the upper class (which almost opt in to it). and others in which the people who are in the upper class have achieved their status from selling drugs and women. and here, the latter, is my problem.

imagining what frank himself must have been through with the expression of his own identity (which he’s notably and justifiably reconciled about), to me there’s a clear hypocrisy. all the veiled social commentary in the world doesn’t mean a thing if the people you’re singing to have bought into the dominant discourse about women carried out almost entirely by men. we’re not all rich and heartless, or hookers, drug addicts, objects.

in spite of this… sigh… channel orange is, in a number of places, an excellent creation. i love the music of crack rock and lost but hate the lyrics. i equally love the first half of pyramids, and while i recognise the statement being made in the second half, it just feels washed out after the energy of what preceded it.

in reality, nostalgia, ultra is by far a better album, having absorbed both.

so is it irony or justice that frank ocean happens to be the most successful out of the lot of them? he’s young but he’s intelligent. i think that will save him in the end.

i’m about to drive to the ocean, i’m gonna try to swim from something bigger than me


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