Scheduled for transmission July 17th
channel ORANGE isn’t arriving in-store until then However, it’s already in the world’s collective ears, sitting in its collective iTunes, and has been since a week prior to that date. This might sound like just another victim in the online age of music, when the public are impatient and songs are free before there’s been a price put on them for release. It’s not though.
No, much like Frank Ocean’s career to date this ‘leak’ took place on his own terms. That’s just how Frank does things, on his own terms and fearlessly. Kickstarted by Hurricane Katrina, Frank left the turmoil of his hometown New Orleans to chase the American Dream. Heading for Los Angeles, he was pursuing a recording career.
From that humble beginning at just eighteen, it’s been a quietly meteoric rise for Frank. Once in LA he chased the dream down the avenue of production as part of a duo called The MIDI Mafia, as a ghost-writer for acts as varied as Justin Bieber and John Legend, then being taken under the wing of his adopted family in mid 2010. Said family being controversial and fast rising rap troupe Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. OFWGKTA. Odd Future.
Quietly flexing his credentials and honing his skills in the background to this point. Odd Future allowed him to come forward, so too did his avid blogging. Quickly building buzz in his own right, 2011 saw Frank release his debut (nostalgia,ULTRA.) mixtape/album himself. Online. For free.
Characterised by a smooth and seductive soul spread across laidback future pop. It was a subdued and stoned R&B all of its own. The lyrics stepped away from the traditional R&B fair, instead opting for thoughtful introspection and storytelling. Single’s Novacane and Swim Good are instant classics. It even saw Frank get into some trouble as the track American Wedding unashamedly uses Hotel California as a backing track.
Quickly swept up by bloggers and online music surfers, the indie press latched on too. Most notably and impressively though, his debut mixtape caught the year of Beyonce, Kanye West and Jay Z. This was followed by an immediate taste of the top. Beyonce now added to his ghost-writing achievements and a guest spot on the massive Kanye and Jay Z collaborative album Watch The Throne.
So the boy’s done good, and all before his first official release. Why would the weeks prior to that release be any different? Barely weeks before that release Ocean posted to his tumblr an open letter to himself and anyone else reading, discussing his first love at 19. A man. It’s a heartfelt, sincere and near lyrical coming out, on his own terms.
Sceptics may point at its closeness to the release date, however coming from and working within a genre that has long been troubled (even renowned) for its inherent homophobia, if anything it could’ve been a raising of his last hurdle before the finish line. Showing just how far society is (finally) getting, even rap, hip hop and R&B, Ocean’s outing has been met with a widespread acceptance and even appreciation. Most notable and vocal being Jay Z and Beyonce.
(Beyonce posted this alongside her accptance/celebration of the announcement)
There’s Frank Ocean to date before release date, he’s built himself up from nothing, found an audience, found burgeoning fame and found fans that will accept him for exactly who he is. So why not one more surprise? After performing Bad Religion on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon it was announced orange CHANNEL would be available on iTunes a week ahead of schedule.
His sophomore effort, the official debut, though. What of it?