channel ORANGE is a channel that no cable provider has, is a channel so unique that we are lucky to tune in with Frank Ocean. After much hype for the album, Frank revealed in a heartfelt letter on his Tumblr that the first time he fell in love it was with a man, just weeks prior to the release, generating enough buzz to drop the album a week early on iTunes. Those who didn’t know about him know do, and those who knew about him, like me, are grateful for artists like Ocean, who bear their souls in their albums, creating something both rare and special in the genres or R&B and hip-hop, making us wish that channel ORANGE was part of national television.
First off, this was easily my most anticipated album of the year. I had been following Frank Ocean’s music ever since the release of his mixtape nostalgia, ULTRA that to this day I still consider one of my favorites. Fast forward to Frank working with Jay-Z and Kanye West in Watch The Throne, it wasn’t a surprise to me that both hip-hop super stars wanted to work with the soulful kid from New Orleans. channel ORANGE is special because it contains Frank’s deepest thoughts and emotions, the heartache, “unrequited” love, sorrow, that could easily be heard in “Bad Religion“, “Pink Matter“, “Forrest Gump“. Frank is beyond talented when it comes to songwriting, because once you listen you feel like you’re there, the way he tells his stories makes you connect with him, which very few artists can do. However, while the pain he is feeling in those songs is unimaginable, the mood isn’t always the same throughout the record, he also has songs like “Super Rich Kids” in which him and fellow Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt sing about those kids who have it all. Then, there’s also “Crack Rock” which seems to have some semblance to Ocean’s life, his grandfather who was addicted to crack, which shows more complexity besides Ocean’s love interests.
The album has a sequence of interludes in between almost every full length song, these are some other channels within channel ORANGE, we get to tune out for a second and pay attention to the conversations happening on the TV that someway or somehow end up being relevant to the record, the way most songs end that lets the album play smoothly, without ever feeling the need to change the song. Moving on, after reviewing many albums and never finding songs that would connect to each other in order to make an effort to have something complete, channel ORANGE comes along, bringing back the essence of enjoying an album as a whole. While this might be Frank’s debut, it feels as if a mature R&B artist put out his fifth album or so, bringing unconventional sounds into the mix, elements of gospel, pop and neo-soul.
According to Ocean, orange is the color he saw when he fell in love, and while this love wasn’t reciprocated, we have all been there. The often mistaken beauty of heartbreak and how it makes us grow, that is what channel ORANGE ultimately is, and now that we are going to be able to tune in with Frank, we don’t want to switch channels.
Favorite songs: “Bad Religion“, “Pyramids“, “Pink Matter“, “Super Rich Kids”
Rating: 9.5/10 ★★★★★★★★★☆ (Click here to read our Review Ratings Explained)