Finally – Here it is.
1. I haven’t read one single other review [honest]
2. I wanted to wait until I heard the album a few times over before posting a review.
With that being said – I really love this album.
Frank Ocean is continues to be THAT NIGGA. He is undoubtedly shaping the future of music. And the crazy thing about it, is that he’s doing it by simply having the audacity to be himself. But if you look back at the history of music, anyone that has truly influenced the culture in a major way…was simply and unapologetically being the best version of their authentic self.
Frank Ocean is another one that represents the synthesis of his time. There’s no Frank Ocean without Kanye West. No Ocean without Prince. No Ocean without Stevie Wonder. No Ocean without Coldplay. No Ocean without Snoop Dogg. No Ocean without John Mayer even. He’s influenced by all of these artists – and so much more. A true product of his time. And it’s exactly what we need.
So let’s get to it. I can’t go through ALL the tracks, it would simply take too long and I do have other shyt to do tonight.
Thinkin Bout You
Hot fiyah. Sure it’s his ready for radio single, but this is what the radio needs. Sure, it’s about a dude, and made me a little uneasy when I realized it, but I STILL JAM IT. It’s just that good of a track. The good thing about this one (unlike Forrest Gump), is if you’re a dude, you can still sing along and think about a woman and it STILL WORKS. So the subject of the song makes no difference, it’s the feeling of the song that’s paramount.
SIDE NOTE – If you ever want to understand how a singer/songwriter actually FEELS about a track – if you wanna know how they want YOU to feel while listening to it, then you HAVE TO SING ALONG. That’s why we miss out on so much the first time going through an album, ’cause we don’t know the song yet well enough. Listen a few times and try to sing along – you’ll at least have a better understanding of what you’re putting on a pedestal or outright rejecting as trash.
Try singing along to the chorus and tell me you aren’t feeling this. Or tell me you haven’t thought this way about someone in your past – or present.
I’ve been thinkin’ boutcha
Do you think about me still?
Do ya? Do ya?
Or do you not think so far…ahead?
‘Cause I’ve been thinkin’ bout forever
Or do you not think so far…ahead?
‘Cause I’ve been thinkin’ bout forever
If you can sing along and NOT feel that shit, you’ve never had THE FEELING. The Feeling changes everything in a relationship. I’ll post on that later tho.
Ahhhhhhh, Sweet Life. Mr Ocean spends A LOT of time contemplating people and their motivations. He tries to understand how and why people do what they do. Why they are who they are. He’s also being exposed to a whole new socioeconomic class the more successful he becomes, and he writes about it from an outsider’s perspective. We’ve all said something similar to, “If I had such and such opportunity or such and such money, I would do x, y, or z thing.” [LOL at my damn self for quoting something only I would fucking say verbatim. Most people would use actual EXAMPLES] Anyway, that’s this song. Ocean compares the things he has always dreamed about doing if he had the opportunity (see the world) vs. people he meets that have the resources to do so and have never taken advantage of it.
He reconciles the issue by recognizing that if you’ve been accustom to a certain ultra comfortable accommodations where your needs and wants have been tended to your whole entire life, then WHY GO ANYWHERE ELSE? What’s there to want? If you actually recognize how good you’ve got it, there’s no real need to desire more.
You’ve had a landscaper and a housekeeper since you were born
The sunshine always kept you warm
So why see the world, when you’ve got the beach
Well why see the world, when you’ve got the beach
A Sweet Life
The song instantly makes me think of my Stevie Wonder catalogue. His vocals are very Stevie-esqe as well [don’t you love my deep-rooted musical knowledge explicitly represented by my perfect use of technical music jargon]. Don’t believe me? Just listen to how his voice effortlessly soars when be belts out –
Whatever you LIKE
Whatever feels good
Whatever takes your mountain high
I can’t imagine anyone else but Frank and/or Stevie PERFECTLY singing that part. PERFECTLY getting across the soaring high of being appreciative of the moment you REALIZE you could have WHATEVER YOU LIKE, WHATEVER feeeeeeels good. Whatever takes YOUR mountain high…
Most of us spend our lives in a routine of necessity. Things we HAVE TO spend our time doing. We have to work. We have to go to school. We have to watch the kids. We have to pay the bills. We have to worry about the bills. We have to worry about other people that count on us to continue this routine.
Contrast that with a life where you can consistently have WHATEVER YOU like? The note is the perfect equivalent the feeling. The release. The joy to be selfish. Unjudgmentally selfish. [yes, i know that’s not a got damn word] It’s such a wonderful concept.
It’s a Sweet Life.
And if you’ve always grown up that way, then your ambitions mayyyyy be a little different from us ‘regular folk’.
Great songwriting……..also Stevie-esqe.
Not Just Money [Interlude]
Ok, two things:
- THIS is what we need to be telling our kids – “decondition yourself” and “It’s not JUST money”
- …..PARENTS BEWARE! You’re kids can record EVERYTHING you say now! They have the technology and are USING it with or without your knowledge. BE.MO.CAREFUL – at all times!
With that out the way – I can’t say it better than Momma Ocean already said it:
Stop thinking of this as being money
It’s just money, I’mma make more
No, no no no no no
Please decondition yourself
It’s not JUST Money
It’s the difference between happy, being happy and sad
It’s the difference between having a home and living on the streets
That’s what it is, it’s not just money
It’s so much more than that
Right now it’s the difference between you being able to go to a prom
And disappointing a girl
As I told you from the beginning, I don’t have money
I have bills to pay, but that meant nothing to you
Let’s see, I have
Ooh yeah, I’mma make myself a hot link when I get home
It meant nothing to you
Saving my seven dollars
Of all the lectures parents give their kids, I find it fascinating that Frank Ocean both recorded this particular one and found it significant enough to include in his album. Does he record many conversations with his mother? With friends? How often? Was this the only time he felt compelled to do so? If so, why? What was the trigger?
I’m personally curious because often parents believe their words to have little to no impact. They feel no matter what they say, their kids just repeat the same actions regardless. While Momma Ocean’s point is a good one and well worth more people learning, the more important question to me is, why did her son finally hear her? [I’m gonna make that my second ASK ONE QUESTION entry, so help me get that answered if you can.]
Many black parents (and others) both in an attempt to raise “good” children and children that don’t covet what the parent can’t give them, have been downplaying the significance of money and material things in a person’s life. We tell them money is the root of all evil, the pursuit of the money is a despicable act in and of itself. It’s selfish and unsubstantial in the long run. Beware those selfish desires ’cause its just the devilish call of the flesh, and you’d do well to ignore all those evil impulses. Or put much more simply – that money doesn’t define you. We know it doesn’t, but Frank recognizes that maybe it’s not as black and white as many of us have been taught.
We even deride people we’ve known that have come up on a lil somethin’ somethin. “Oh Susan? That bitch moved up to the hills where the white folk stay. She too good and bougie to come down here and mess with us anymore.” The community doesn’t speak highly of people who have removed themselves from close to their origins.
Please decondition yourself
Super Rich Kids
This great track sits beautifully after Sweet Life and his mother’s lesson. Frank playfully toys around with both the insanely good things that come with being filthy rich, but recognizes that being the flawed humans we are, it still comes with its own high price.
This shower head feels so amazing…
Line sums up what it feels like to jump income classes. “You take showers like this ALL THE TIME? Every time you clean your body, you have 6 different sources of water aimed at your body? And I can program them to pulsate at my desired rate? AND THERE’S A RAIN FALL HEAD TOO?! I didn’t even SEE THAT ONE! Turn that bitch on too! OH SHYT! It SPINS! It spiiiiiins….. This is my life from now on? Really? From now til fo-eva, I can shower HERE? [tears] This shower head feels so amazing…
And although the song itself isn’t about jumping income classes, only someone who hasn’t been used to that life would even pick up something like that as out of the ordinary. Cause if you’re used to it, you don’t know it’s not normal. Love this song!
From there, the album goes into what I consider a more modern issue in Pilot Jones where the character is sleeping with his less than ambitious weed dealer with the sweetest kiss he’s ever known. His humanizing of people and their roles is #cray.
Further challenging the dehumanizing of societal labels, he tackles one of the most dehumanizing in Crack Rock. #CRAY Yes, that’s right – Frank Ocean wrote a track for all the crack heads out there. Don’t think it’s one of the most dehumanizing labels? Google Image up ‘crackhead’ right now and see whatchu get. He gave THEM a cut. Something they can be proud to play and sob to at the Same Damn Time. [s/o to the ignance that is Future – guarantee you can’t watch more than 70 seconds]
Part 2: We get into the genius of Pyramids, Bad Religion, Pink Matter, and even touch on yes…Forrest Gump.
Hope you enjoyed so far. Mr. Ocean has given us a lot to talk about. Whatcha think? Talk to me!