Frank Ocean is a gamechanger and I am a fangirl. There, I’ve said it. He’s written for Beyoncé, he’s collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West. A member of Los Angeles hip-hop collective Odd Future, he’s one of the elite but in the most humble of ways. Just before his debut album, Channel Orange, was released last summer, he posted the record’s credits note on his Tumblr, revealing to the world that his first love was a man. A bold move, but a brave one, and brace yourself for a big statement here, it was the most moving piece of writing the world had read in a long time. (I think.)
Ocean is a storyteller, and by the power of words he showed the world how to truly make a statement. Last week Channel Orange won Best Urban Contemporary Album at the Grammys and has seen an 140% rise in sales since the nod. And rightly so. This is only the beginning of what will propel Ocean into the big time. He’s not just that boy with the nice words about his first love – he now has two Grammys under his belt (the second being for “No Church In The Wild”, his collaboration with Jay-Z and Kanye West) and is a serious force to be reckoned with.
But that’s not what he wants. His name does not appear on the cover of Channel Orange and his dog Everest is credited as the album’s producer. A beautifully honest first album, rife with the sting of unrequited love, Channel Orange is sheer perfection and everything he does from now on will be measured against it. Let’s hope the tricky sophomore album doesn’t prove a failure like so many other artists; somehow, I don’t think it will.
In the world of hip-hop, a place where homosexuality and bisexuality are not openly discussed, his revelations were revolutionary. “Forrest Gump”, which he performed at the Grammys award ceremony, contains the lyric: “You run my mind, boy”, a fairly big deal as we hardly ever hear overtly same-sex song lyrics. It’s refreshing and it’s real.
So far, so good. He hasn’t done anything to annoy us, hasn’t beat up a partner (Chris Brown, I’m looking at you), just released some gorgeously cloudy and emotive music. Oh, and changed his name to Frank Ocean because it would look better on magazine covers. How perfectly gas. Christopher Breaux doesn’t quite have the same ring.
Have I fangirled for long enough yet? I just don’t think it’s possible to find anyone who quite simply just exudes so much “cool”. His voice is the first one we hear on the entire Watch The Throne album so if that’s not a vote of confidence from two of the industry’s most respected, I don’t know what is. Remembering he’s only five years older than me, it’s easy to feel pretty underwhelmed about your own achievements, but I think I’ll get over it – so long as he keeps doing what he’s doing.