Album Review: Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

There was plenty of hype leading up to release of Frank Ocean’s debut album “Channel Orange”. After his much successful mixtape “nostalgia,Ultra” gained so much acclaim it was clear that Frank Ocean was talented. Everything was going right for him, or so it seemed from the outside.

As Ocean talks about on his album, he’s been dealing with the first love of his life, a man that he fell in love with when he was 19. The “unrequited love” that he raps about several times was hard for him to deal with, resulting in him writing an amazing letter and rapping about his love on this album.

“Channel Orange” is Ocean pouring out his emotions over his forbidden love, his rise and dealing with fame. After the start, the first real song on the album is “Thinkin bout You” which has been released for quite some time. It’s a great song and after Frank’s coming out makes the song mean even more. He sings on the song “A tornado flew around my room before you came. Excuse the mess it made, it usually doesn’t rain in Southern California much, like Arizona. My eyes don’t shed tears, but boy, they pour when I’m thinking ’bout you”

After the 40 second long track “Fertilizer”, Ocean goes into “Sierra Leone” where he talks which is an okay track but it picks back up with “Sweet Life”, which he released as a single. While some of the album may be Ocean dealing with his problems, in “Sweet Life” he celebrates just that.

Next comes up “Super Rich Kids” and the first feature on the album, from his fellow Odd Future mate Earl Sweatshirt. One of my favorites on the album, Frank is joined by Earl to talk about the problems of being super rich kids “with nothing but fake friends” as he says on the chorus. He also demonstrates a struggle again on this track, with lines such as “We end our day up on the roof. I say I’ll jump, I never do”

The next two songs, “Pilot Jones” and “Crack Rock” flow together with where he left off on “Super Rich kids”. Both talk about bad relationships, especially on “Crack Rock” where it’s with a women who’s addicted to crack.

Next comes “Pyramids”, the 10 minute main single off the album. A good song, it feels like two or three different songs throughout. Although that’s fine with a song that’s 10 minutes long. It starts in the beginning with a smooth R&B singing Frank behind guitars and a nice beat. Then there’s more music that transitions into the second part of the song, and around the 5:30 point where he starts a little bit of rapping in his Frank Ocean way, still with his beautiful voice.

I also feel like “Pyramids” helps the transition from the beginning, where Frank is talking more about his relations with women and his life on “Super rich kids” and “Sweet Life” into his struggles with his sexuality.

One of the songs that it transitions into is my favorite song on the whole album, “Bad Religion”. I’ve seen this taken a couple of different ways in the past couple of days, but “Bad Religion” is about him trying to get away from “the demons” of him dealing with loving another man. He sings beautifully at the beginning,

Taxi driver
You’re my shrink for the hour
Leave the meter running
It’s rush hour
So take the streets if you wanna
Just outrun the demons, could you
He said “allahu akbar”, I told him don’t curse me
“bo bo you need prayer”, I guess it couldn’t hurt me
If it brings me to my knees
It’s a bad religion

It’s such a beautiful song, and was even better when he sang it on Jimmy Fallon on Monday. This, along with “Forrest Gump” was also what made people originally think Ocean may be gay. He sings “I could not make him love me” and although I’ve seen this being taken as him talking about God, I think the better explanation is him talking about the man he’s in love with.

The third feature on the album was Andre 3000 and he didn’t disappoint on “Pink Matter”. Once again, “Pink Matter” sees Ocean contemplating life and talking to himself throughout the whole song. 3 stacks finishes it perfectly too.

Overall there was some plain and okay songs on “Channel Orange”, but I think the goods heavily outweigh those songs. For a debut album, it’s incredible to see something this good from Frank Ocean although if you’ve followed his career too this point you could see that he’s capable of this. From this point on, things will be different in his life and the way that fans treat him, but his music should stay the same. “Channel Orange” is a beautiful album and cements Frank Ocean’s place as one of the top names in R&B today.

Best Song: Bad Religion
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


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