Who’s Frank Ocean? I have no clue and, after listening to his newest release, I have even less of a clue (but in a good way). Whether it be poet, spoken word artist, crooner, singer, screamer, educator, or rapper, this guy does it. All of it decent, moving in the right direction, and all with limited use of the N word (which this reviewer appreciates).
I hear some influences right off the bat with an ode to Prince on the albums second track, Ivy. Later we have a guest appearance by Andre 3000 of Outkast. After that we have Mrs. Ocean warning her son about the dangers of drugs, or is it? You see Frank, and/or his producer(s), likes to tweak his voice in the studio so you could be hearing a young child or a female or maybe an Andre 3000. I’m not sure where Frank ends and the cameo’s begin but that’s ok.
The “songs”, if you can call them that, are solid. I quote songs as nowhere do I hear the standard 3 minute 20 second intro>verse>chorus>verse>chorus>bridge>chorus>outro in the whole lot of em. It plays like a concept record with no real structure. Kind of like one big musical project with various interludes breaking up the sections. It works, though. Complete with nods to life “back then”, how he rides “solo”, his 98 Acura with the 6 disc changer, & the touchiness of people with Facebook.
Don’t fret though, he’s got that RnB chillness as he waxes about always loving you and being “your boyfriend in your wet dreams”. He also brings the gospel on the track Pretty Sweet (featuring a fast/funky beat), and bids a trippy “fond farewell to a friend” where Frank “maybe has a good cry”. All that and a Carpenter’s cover!
It is the record’s final track, Futura Free, where he shines his brightest and self effacing best, even if he does use the N word. Giving thanks to his mother and declaring he’s just a guy, not a God. (Make sure to let the track finish for some great interviews)
Throw in his good looks and references to Amber Rose, Trayvon Martin, Selena, & Michael Jackson and you’ve got a winner. Especially with the teen female crowd I’m sure.