Lydia Jenkin

Lydia Jenkin is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Album review: Channel Orange - Frank Ocean

Add a comment
Frank Ocean. Photo / Supplied
Frank Ocean. Photo / Supplied

This 24-year-old New Orleans' native has written songs for John Legend, Justin Bieber and Beyonce; and collaborated with Jay-Z, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Odd Future. And now with his debut album, Channel Orange, he's made a statement.

Not only is his prodigious talent clear, it's also different. The tracks aren't as mainstream or "radio-friendly" as one might imagine (even though he's got Pharrell and Andre 3000 lending a hand). Ocean is happy to let the tracks breathe with spacious soundscapes between the hooks, and there's a beguiling fragility and sense of unease to the production, along with a sense of adventure. These ain't regular club anthems, they're thought-provoking. But that's not the only significant difference. Ocean recently declared he's bisexual and that declaration is reflected in the lyrical content. R&B and hip-hop is often piled with references to lips, hips, skin, and Ocean's songs are notable for their lack of body-part references, for any sexual objectification.

First single Thinking About You is a beautifully tender love song that's almost genderless, and his "baby girl" reference on Sierra Leone is actually to a baby.

And that's not his only deconstruction of traditional hip-hop culture - Super Rich Kids makes a few strong observations, and Sweet Life is a great summer jam, but with the refrain "why see the world, when you've got the beach", he's definitely not afraid to ridicule.

Stars: 4.5/5
Verdict: The new young R&B contender

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2015, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 28 Nov 2015 03:09:19 Processing Time: 441ms