I will preface this article by saying that when I become a true fan of an artist's music, it is solely based on their talent and ability to continue to create great music. An artist's personal life has no bearing over whether or not I will support them. If that was the case, then I would have been done with R. Kelly years ago. One of the most controversial issues with artists is, so long as their music maintains the level of integrity that drew in fans from the beginning, anything that occurs or is revealed in their personal lives is automatically justified.
With some artists, their actions are more difficult to overlook than others. The thing is, some artists are what I consider to be geniuses and no other aspect of their lives would ever outshine their gift. Ocean's recent revelation may have been opportune when considering the fact his debut album is on the way, and any news with this level of shock value is sure to work wonders for his sales figures, but in my opinion he couldn't have chosen a better time. You see, every artist has their own set of tactics to draw in fans and boost sales, but how honest and genuine are these tactics? More importantly, is the music they are trying to promote even worth listening to?
With Frank Ocean's "channel ORANGE" album, the answer is a resounding HELL YEAH, NIGGA! (Excuse my ratchet outburst). Anyone who has heard his stellar mixtape "Nostalgia, Ultra" understands the depth of this man's music, and he continues to bring us that same level of masterful music with his latest project. His current single "Sweet Life," which has been subject to several jokes on radio stations nationwide due to the title, is actually one of the strongest songs on album. You just don't hear R&B like this anymore. From his vocal variety to the jazzy tone and chorus line, this track is absolutely impeccable. "Why see the world, when you have the beach?" It's a different life out there in Cali, and this track as well as several others illustrate the better-than-average lifestyle these youngins live out there.
The truly standout record on this album would have to be the filthy masterpiece assisted by the legendary Andre 3000, "Pink Matter." I don't know if anyone could actually explain what this song is about outside of those who wrote it, or maybe I am simply too dense to crack the code on what these dudes are singing about, but I know this song is what initially drew me to the rest of the album. Frank Ocean illustrates a conversation he's having with someone about their opinions on women, the mind, and the supernatural, while 3000 runs through a scenario he had with a particular female. It all might sound basic on the surface, but once you absorb the lyrics you will understand just how amazing this collaboration truly is.
The most important record on this album is also the one that might be the most difficult to listen to for some. The final track titled "Forrest Gump" illustrates the story behind him coming out. Apparently, his first love was a man, and he re-vistits the memory of that person running through his mind for three minutes. Maybe one day down the line, we as a society will be able to fully accept a gay urban artist the same way we accept everyone else? Maybe this is the beginning of the end of our ignorance as a culture? So even while I struggle to talk about the final track of this album, others who are listening to it around the world are slowly starting to change their views. It won't happen overnight, and it will absolutely take more than a generation to accept the reality that there are several gay and bi-sexual artists out there, but having an album of great music to zone out to in the meantime definitely makes it easier.