[REVIEW] When a Poet Sings:<br />
Frank Oceanâs âchannel ORANGEâ

[REVIEW] When a Poet Sings:
Frank Ocean’s “channel ORANGE”

Does Ocean live up to the hype? Darnell L. Moore weighs in

by Darnell L. Moore, July 17, 2012

[REVIEW] When a Poet Sings:<br />
Frank Oceanâs âchannel ORANGEâ

Will you be picking up Channel Orange?

Janelle Monae as a contemporary artist that gets closest to Ocean’s style here—both aren’t afraid to depart the normal.

The third section of “channel ORANGE,” which includes the shorter tracks “Lost,” “White,” “Monks,” “Bad Religion,” and “Pink Matter” are a combination of various sounds. “Lost” could have easily appeared on—with more vocal stylizing and musical sophistication, of course—Prince’s 1985 album, “Around the World in a Day.” Fans might be surprised to hear a John Mayer guitar solo a few tracks behind “Pyramids,” but it seems satirical that Mayer, dubbed a misogynist by some and the “accidental racist” by comedian Kumail Nanjiani, plays (beautifully) on an instrumental ironically titled, “White.” “Monk” and “Bad Religion,” two tracks illuminating elements of religion, and “Forest Gump” are meditations on sex (with girl groupies) and love (possibly with an intimate him). The tracks, not unlike many of the others on the album are short, but fans will surely give a close listen to the two tracks with Ocean’s own context in mind. Folk will want to know if these tracks are about Ocean’s sex/love life given his recent disclosure that he loved a man when he was 19. Yet, as poet A. E. Housman once wrote, “Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.”

“channel ORANGE” is a pleasurable piece of musical artistry colored in fire-orange. Its fire, beauty, and intensity need not be extinguished by our desires to make Ocean fit our fantasies as an artist. He soars in this project.

More great reads from Darnell L. Moore

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