MUSIC WORLD: channelORANGE… Classic?
Frank Ocean, a relative newcomer to the music world, recently followed up his critically acclaimed mixtape “nostalgia,ULTRA” with his first solo effort, channelORANGE. I consider myself a relatively new fan of Mr. Ocean [read: no relation to Billy]. “nostalgia,ULTRA” presented a cohesive project of familiar sounds while challenging your eardrums. As a listener, you wanted to associate Frank’s race with his musical genre, automatically pegging “nostalgia,ULTRA” as R&B when it felt more like a Coldplay album than an Usher album.
tumblr announcement aside, channelORANGE initially left me scratching my head. I fell in love with Frank Ocean thru his mixtape and contributions to the Watch the Throne and 4 albums. I don’t disagree that channelORANGE is a great debut album, but I’m left wondering if he’s totally alienated the fans that fell in love with “Novacane” and “Thinkin Bout You.”
I applaud Mr. Ocean’s bravery in presenting material that is personal to him. Specifcially “Forrest Gump” which is clearly about a man. The creative balls that it takes to include a song that so clearly represents the love he had for another man is remarkable. Upon first listen, I am more than satisfied by this debut album. I do feel like the hype may overpower the overall quality of the offering. This is not to say that it’s not an amazing album, it is. But the hype surrounding this album has created an almost “automatic classic” ranking.
I completely understand the idea of a classic album is mostly subjective. Frank Ocean was able to release his debut album digitally, an entire week before the physical copy was set to hit stores. And he saw great numbers, debuting at number 2 on the charts. Aside from that, I don’t find the album as anything particularly impressive. After listening for about a week now, it’s a good album, but it doesn’t stand out as innovative or something that has changed the game forever. If you remove his declaration of independence about his sexuality, the album just sounds like a good debut album. The writing is awesome, the production is smooth, and the sequence of tracks is calculated. Have we become so accustomed to terrible R&B offerings (read: Fortune from Chris Brown) that a good album has to be pegged as “classic” almost as soon as it hits our ears and is digested by our brain? He definitely presents standout tracks with “Pink Matter,” featuring the always impressive Andre 3000, the 10-minute “Pyramids,” and the Earl Sweatshirt-assisted- “Super Rich Kids.” But then there are songs like “Monks” and “Lost” that I felt could’ve been left off the project.
So what do you think? Too soon for the “classic” talk? Or do you think channelORANGE is indeed a classic album?
editor’s note: if you’ve never read an issue of “The Source” or “VIBE” in the 90s, any answer to this question will be deemed invalid.