Album Review: Frank Ocean – Channel ORANGE

Album Review: Frank Ocean - Channel ORANGE

It is debatable that music is at it’s best when it’s emotionally charged. For an artist to convey their personal feelings through a combination of sounds and words, regardless of the scrutiny that may come with it is truly a brave and risky move in this industry, but with risk comes the reward. This is proven to be true with upcoming R&B artist Frank Ocean, who is arguably the most discussed artist in music today.

Ocean has always been coy with his plans, rarely being involved in interviews but revealing the most of himself in his work. Whether it be appearing in videos with his controversial team Odd Future or through songs that find themselves on the blogs, Christopher Breaux remains under the radar until necessary. I say this because only recently has Ocean become the talk of the music world, specifically for his letter to the masses regarding his past. I’ve said this note was convenient in terms of it’s arrival and some have even gone as far as to say it was to create a buzz for the artist beyond the praise for his previous work and features (such as his contributions to the Watch The Throne) but it’s as unlikely as his music is proficient. There are many different ways to gain attention and claiming to be interested in the same gender is a life changing statement to make, especially if it wasn’t true. Regardless, now Ocean is at his most vulnerable point for the world to experience and the only question that remains is can Channel ORANGE be Frank Ocean‘s best work to date, or is it all hype?

Album Review: Frank Ocean   Channel ORANGE

Do you think about me still, do ya? Do ya?

Following an interesting opening piece sampling the opening sequence for the original Playstation, Ocean‘s oldest hit “Thinking About You” comes to life first. A simple beat carrying Ocean‘s feelings on a certain individual of his past conveyed through a admirable amount of word play makes up the single. Clever yet short, the notes and effort here is top notch.

And I just ran outta Trojans…

Another short clip titled “Fertilizer” feels familiar yet fresh, containing various clips from video games, voices and noises leading into “Sierra Leone” which has a creative approach, as Ocean switches up between singing and speaking along to the beat at his own pace. Short, good, but lacking.

The best song wasn’t the single…

One of the longer songs on the entire project stands at 4 minutes and 23 seconds, with production assistance from Pharrell. Ocean glows on the smooth “Sweet Life” discussing exactly what the title suggests. Imagery is strong here, and the track’s subject varies a bit but overall stays on it’s trail to evaluate the life of luxury. One of the stronger tracks on the entire project.

Super Rich Kids with nothing but loose ends…

Another interesting clip regarding money comes on, one that is from a friend of Ocean‘s. The clip focuses on what the individual recording it thinks of money apparently, being scolded by the woman discussing currency in the first place. It leads into the highly anticipated “Super Rich Kids” featuring Odd Future‘s long lost soldier Earl Sweatshirt, which is interesting at best. Not exactly gripping, it feels as if its too simple to even grab the listener. Sweatshirt appears about half way through the song with his contribution in the form of a verse that’s forgettable. Altogether it feels slightly sloppy, ending with another one of Ocean‘s quick clips.

Once had things in common, now the only thing we share is the refrigerator…

Ocean‘s not afraid to take risks and try new sounds and concepts with his music, and it’s apparent with sounds like “Pilot Jones” which touches on a weed dealer and the one indulging in the content. The story of the addict with the “Pilot Jones” (utilizing the slang of “jonesing” for something, meaning needing or wanting) has a need to get high off of weed from the individual but also gets a high off of the presence of the person. It speaks from a perspective in which this time has came and gone, reminding you in the beginning that now she “flies alone” meaning he refuses to join her. The story is captivating and more appealing with each listen.

You don’t know how little you matter until you’re all alone…

“Crack Rock” is a bit faster than the majority of the project, speaking on addiction. Stealing, robbing, attempting to speak with crooked cops and other pieces of the story reveal themselves in the song but overall it feels flat. Besides the slightly catchy tone, there’s not much to offer here.

They have taken Cleopatra, Run Run Run come back for my Glory, bring Her back to Me… / She’s working at the Pyramid tonight…

Odd Future Chief Tyler, The Creator has been quoted in saying that the enthralling “Pyramids” is his favorite track on Ocean‘s upcoming project and although it’s extremely lengthy to be one song, it is obviously a stand out on the project. It acts as two sides of the same coin, the beat flipping entirely towards the 5 minute mark. The concept starts with an ancient tale of betrayal and deception and ends with a realistic vision of a woman who makes stimulation her bread and butter, if you will. The first side is good, but the latter is great, making the song overall an easy choice to be a fan favorite, although it is technically two songs in itself.

Lost in the heat of it all…

Another story involving drugs and substances but instead it surrounds the girl captured by it living a different lifestyle. “Lost” has the protagonist claiming the woman is gone, lost in the lifestyle of traveling and selling with clever innuendos helping to tell the story along the way. It’s entertaining at the most.

Shows me her passport, she’s on her own tour…

White is a piece that stands to be a little over a minute, really capturing the ear of the listener with John Mayer playing the guitar up into “Monks” which is smooth and tells an intricate story of finding love where it’s least expected between two individuals, but overall it feels like it’s lacking.

Taxi Driver, be my shrink for the hour…

“Bad Religion” is one of the most honest yet veiled attempts at expressing oneself I’ve heard in quite sometime. Without spelling it out, Ocean paints the picture and delivers beautifully on easily one of the best tracks on the project, if not the best. Wanting the love of another, conflict and confusion will the track but just the concept of sitting in the back of a random taxi driver’s car and spilling out emotions is raw and powerful, and Ocean‘s delivery shows it.

Close my eyes and fall into You…

Tone is everything with “Pink Matter”, as the emotion raises inconspicuously and disappears again throughout. It’s meant to pull at the emotions of the individual and it’s effective. Andre 3000 is the ally here and it’s a solid verse, yet slightly underwhelming as the rare verses we get from 3 Stacks are usually phenomenal. Overall the track is well done.

You run my mind, boy…

One of the most lyrically transparent tracks comes at the end in the form of “Forrest Gump” which is carried by Ocean‘s inability to get his love interest off his mind. The beat is as simple as the concept of putting the character Forrest Gump in the place of the man he was infatuated with, and it’s not a bad form of simplicity at all. Incredibly catchy.

Um, You’re my GO-LD-EN-GI-RL…

“Golden Girl” is a much lighter effort and feels slightly out of place towards the end but the creator known as Tyler performs well here, cruising along with the beat as they both reveal their emotions regarding their certain someone, Ocean‘s delivery and message being a bit more cryptic then his counterpart. Oddly placed, but fun and light.

Vulnerability is always a gamble, and if it’s not utilized correctly the backlash is inescapable. That said, Frank Ocean is a mastermind with what he reveals on this project. His storytelling is his craft, and he’s phenomenal with that gift. He paints his pictures vividly and although it’s impressive, a lot of these tracks fail to grab the listener.

Instrumentals play an inevitable part in the music and Ocean can carry a track, but a few of these just feel like they are incapable of reaching the level that you’d expect the artist who has put out such quality music such as “Nostalgia, Ultra” prior to his debut album. The album as a whole is decent, but only certain tracks keep this project from feeling like slight step backwards.

Album Review: Frank Ocean   Channel ORANGE

Album Review: Frank Ocean   Channel ORANGEOVERALL:7/10

Timeless Tracks: Bad Religion, Thinking About You, Pyramids

You can purchase Frank Ocean‘s Channel ORANGE here.

Leave A Comment

  • Mela Toca

    Wow to say that he’s taking a step back from his previous record is beyond me this album is great sorry to hear that the writer failed to see that

  • K to the

    amazing album – shit review …

  • Kyle Fall

    I think that one comes down to personal opinion. Good read.