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Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Conundrum That is Frank Ocean

The first time I heard anything from Frank Ocean, I was not impressed.  A friend of mine recommended the Lonny Breaux Collection via Skype or some other social networking engine. I waited in anticipation while the 64-track length mixtape loaded to my laptop.  Being the music junkie I am, I couldn't have been more excited to get my hands on some new tunes.  Distinct details escape me now but I do remember being slightly irritated that I had to individually load all those songs to my iTunes library.  Like, who in their right mind releases a 64-song project??

I skimmed through the tracks, growing impatient as I tried to find a song that would grab me, making me believe this was something I needed in my life.  Failing to make it through the entire thing, I deleted the file, told my friend I wasn't feeling it and may have expressed my disinterest on Twitter or something.  Fast forward almost two years later and I'm grooving to channel Orange, Ocean's debut album that has had me in a trance for the past four days.  The project was released a week exclusively for iTunes, the same day Ocean was scheduled to appear on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, his very first television appearance.

Unless you have stayed away from the internet for the past week, you know about the infamous Tumblr post from Frank Ocean, confessing his love for a man when he was 19 years old.  Since then, Twitter, online magazines, as well as the blogosphere, have blown up with opinionated fans and writers expressing how proud they are of him for "coming out of the closet".  My twitter timeline has been full of new found Ocean fans, defending this man's honor all in the name of free love.  Along with the diehard fans come the negative ones, claiming they "don't support gay men" but was just bumping "Novocane" & "Pyramids" last week *eye roll*.

While visiting Very Smart Brothas, I saw this post from The Champ that questioned if Ocean was really gay. After reading the now infamous liner notes intended for channel Orange, it was never made clear whether Ocean is really gay or even bi-sexual.  He simply states that he fell in love with a man that happened to be a very good friend.  The two never shared a sexual moment.  In fact, the friend had a girlfriend, who he returned to after Ocean confessed how he felt about him.

The Champ made a very good point in stating that "our definition of what makes a man gay seems to be amorphous, continually shifting to encompass any behavior outside of what we consider to be the hyper-hetero norm. Fell in love with a man? Gay! Not currently sleeping with multiple women? Gay!".  I could not agree with this point more.  I like to think I do a good job at keeping my nose out of other people's business so I could care less if the man was in love with a purple monkey.  The fact still remains that he makes good, arguably timeless music and that should count for something.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have never been the bandwagon type but I will admit that my appreciation for this man's writing ability and artistry has grown tremendously.  His music has been on repeat all week, as I am paying more attention to his story telling ability and musical tastes.  Honestly, I think he is genius, so much so that I am willing to go back and give the Lonny Breaux Collection another listen to see what it was that I missed the first time around.

If for nothing else, Ocean's star power is reaching new heights.  This well constructed body of work coupled with the questions surrounding his sexuality (which is none of anyone's business but his) has made him out to be the most talked about singer at this time.  This could very well be a publicity stunt and if so, I'm not even mad but as I said before, the man makes quality music and deserves respect as a singer/songwriter.

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