Monday, July 16, 2012

channel ORANGE: Busby's Review

When I first heard about Odd Future I thought they were just some juvenile immature wannable Wu-Tang Clan kids.  After I saw them on Jimmy Fallon, my assumptions about them were pretty much spot on.  I really wasn't going to give any member of the group any time of day, so I just brushed them off.  That is until I stumbled across somebody I wouldn't think in a million years that would be part of their collective.  When I first heard Frank Ocean's nostalgia, ULTRA, I was generally surprised on how talented the dude was.  His music was COMPLETELY different then the dark horrorcore subject matter of the other Odd Future members.  From his melodies and his vocal range, I can tell this dude was going to be up there as one of the best R&B artist to come out.  After his mixtape got a lot of critical acclaim he ended up working with a lot of big artist.  From Hov & Ye, to Beyonce, to Bieber, the list can go on.  Frank Ocean was the reason I finally got around to listening to the entire OFWGKTA collective. I was actually surprised that they really are talented. However, I knew that Frank Ocean was the real star out of the entire collective, and he had a lot to prove.

"On this record..this latest body of work that I've been doing.  I think it sysyncly defines me as an artist for where I am right now.  You know? That was just the aim just to make something that just represents where you are at that time."-Frank Ocean
 Like Frank stated, this was the album where he feels that defines him as an artist.  Now before I go on, let's just talk about the elephant in the room.  Frank Ocean went to his Tumblr to address a few rumors that were circling after an album listening.  He posted a letter where he confessed that he had a relationship with another man some years back.  It came as a bombshell for his fans and music listeners alike when he came out the closet.  Watching the reaction on twitter was interesting in itself.  Some folks were still supporting Frank's music no matter what his sexuality is. While other people were completely disgusted with him and deleted his music and wanted nothing to do with him.  In my opinion, it's just music.  People loved Luther Vandross's music, people loved Elton John's music, hell people loved George Michael's ass.  At the end of the day, it's just music and if it makes you feel good, that is ALL that matters.  Not even a week after his confession Frank released his official debut album entitled channel ORANGE a week early on iTunes.  People can call it good marketing or a good publicity stunt but at the end of the day, it got you listening. 

After the PS1 intro, the album opens up with newly mastered Thinkin' Bout You.  It was originally a reference track he wrote for Bridget Kelly.  However, after the track leaked it got a lot of positive feedback.  And personally, Frank sang the song a lot better then Bridget did, sorry.  After a nice interlude that I wished was a full track called Fertilizer, it goes right into the next track called Sierra Leone.  Nice smooth track to really kick your feet up and chill out.  One of the many highlights on the album is the Pharrell produced record Sweet Life.  This track really reminded me of a Musiq Soulchild record.  This really is a nice record to play during a family get together or BBQ, a nice little summer record.  Super Rich Kids is a nice summer record too, but the only downside to the track was the Earl Sweatsuit featured verse.  I actually like Earl, he is one the dopest members out of Odd Future but he just spit a bunch of big ass words that made no damn sense.  Sounded like he popped a lot of pills and just went into the booth.

Pilot Jones and Crack Rock are two tracks you should listen to when you are really blown.  Pilot Jones is a very smooth song to listen to when you are just about to spark up.  However, Crack Rock is the song to listen to when you are coming down realizing that you need to reevaluate your life.  Both really good tracks and nice lead in to the next record.  Pyramids is one of the true highlights of the album.  Clocking in at over 10 minutes, Frank tells 2 separate stories from different perspectives. The first half being a fast paced beat driving record telling the story of an Egyptian Pharaoh on the search for his Queen Cleopatra.  While the second half is slowed down and this time the story takes place in the present day from the perspective of a man who hired a whore. I love every minute of this track, especially the slowed down portion of it.  This song really depicts Frank Ocean as a artist and in my opinion one of his best tracks to date.

Lost and Monk are nice little jam records to get your groove on to.  The song White (not to be confused with the OF Mixtape version) is nothing more then a interlude track that is just a instrumental record with John Mayer on the guitar.  Now Bad Religion is another personal favorite from this album.  Frank tells a story about having a taxi cab confession about a forbidden love he can never have.  Some folks feel this is one of the tracks where he confesses his love to another man.  Whatever the case, this track is beautifully written and orchestrated. It almost sounds like it was inspired by Stevie Wonder. 

Pink Matter is another highlight record simply for the fact that Andre 3000 popped up to do a very good guest verse.  Kinda mad that he cockblocked Big Boi from jumping on the track, because that track really suited him.  Oh well, the track is still good, and a nice baby maker song to have on when you getting it on.  Forrest Gump is the controversial track where Franklin pretty much let's that gaydom fly. However, some people can say that the song is Frank singing from the prespective of Jenny.  However way you put it, the last few seconds of Frank whistling pretty much leaves the listener to make up their own mind.

The bonus track which is the final record Golden Girl is a nice feel good summer record.  Nice song to listen to when you are on the beach and went to cuddle with your significant other.  The only downside to the song is Tyler, The Creator's guest verse where he COMPLETELY switches the song up.  Almost sounded like a sequel to She and in my opinion, it really sounded out of place, but hey that is just me.

Overall channel ORANGE is a VERY good album.  Frank really achieved his goal on establishing himself as an artist.  I think that his letter really added some depth to the album and made you think a lot more while you were listening to the music.  Channel ORANGE is one of those R&B albums that pay homage to artist like Musiq Soulchild, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder and countless other artist.  You can really hear how those artist shaped him into who he is now.  Now I'm not going to throw around the word "classic", but I WILL say it is a very good album.  Only negative thing I will say is that I can do without the Earl & Tyler guest features.  It kinda killed the mood for the album for me, but that is just me.  All in all, Frank Ocean really impressed me, and he showed that at the end of the day music is the only thing that matters.  It don't matter how questionable gay you are, how abusive you are, or how fake you are, if you deliever good music...that is ALL that matters.

Busby's Review: 4.5/5

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