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Love and addiction: looking at Frank Ocean’s album “Channel Orange”

When we think about Frank Ocean today, we mostly discuss his latest album Blonde and the hit single “Chanel”. However, it seems that we have forgotten Ocean’s debut studio album Channel Orange and it’s importance within our current era of music. Like many of the albums previously discussed, Channel Orange has a strong production structure from the likes of Pharell Williams, Tyler The Creator and more. The album has features from artist Earl Sweatshirt and Andre 3000. 

From the beginning of the album, you know that you are about to be pulled into a world unlike any other as the first track has the startup sound from the first Playstation console, a game system that pulled players into new worlds and Oceans album does the same. There are a variety of sounds and beats that compliment Ocean’s heartbreaking but beautiful lyrics very well. Sounds that are rare to hear in hip hop such as funky jazz, pop-soul, and even psychedelic sounds mixed together on a single album, places Channel Orange a league of its own when it comes to sound. We even hear sounds from old movies and VCR’s in the introduction to some tracks. You could spend hours simply listening to some of the instrumentals on this track. From the intense electronic sounds on the famous track “Pyramids,” to the track “White” which is truly a track with no lyrics; just a calming beat. But now we get into the weeds and into the lyrics. 

There are many themes that you can pull from this album but two big ones are love and addiction which are two sides of the same coin. Throughout the various tracks, we are placed in a luxurious backdrop with a seemingly perfect lifestyle, a dark underbelly where we meet individuals who come from broken homes that have everything they could ask for except for childhood and real friends. As you journey through the album you will see that Ocean is being vulnerable, but also protected which is something we still see within black communities.  Many individuals want to share the stories about the things they witnessed but with that sharing comes the consequence of being perceived as fearful. Ocean sings about love and drugs when put in the same space things will be lost between the two. These lyrics truly make you think about your relationships with others and how some lovers stay at arm’s length despite being so close. So, do yourself a favor and go back to this album you might find something new or you simply might just enjoy an album from one of today’s best artists (who barely drops any music) Frank Ocean. “Channel Orange” is truly an album that you can count on to be something special no matter how many times you might hear it. 

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