Album Review

Frank Ocean "channel Orange"

Chad W. Lutz
Released on July 10, 2012, Frank Ocean's channel ORANGE offers a new look at an old genre. At times an homage to R&B, and at others an all-out assault on rock, hip-hop, and funk, channel ORANGE ranges in style and theme. Lyrics touching on love, life, success, fame, fortune, class and social struggle - even Forrest Gump - find their way into the provocative and often entertaining delivery of Frank Ocean.

From beginning to end, listeners should be ready for anything. The 17-track album features an intro, two interludes, and an outro to go along with 6 traditional tracks, although traditional really isn't the word to describe the LP. Well-produced and occasionally psychedelic, Ocean's take on hip-hop is entrancing, vivid, and sultry. Tracks like "Thinkin Bout You" and "Sierra Leone" feature soulful lyrics about love across social borders, reminiscing about the first time, and romance that lasts. "Pilot Jones", "Lost", "Sweet Life", and the ten-minute epic, "Pyramid", successfully display a bombastic, funky, and over-the-top edge to Ocean.

Notable collaborators on the album are Pharrell, Andre 3000, John Mayer, and Om'mas Keith. Each artist contributes their own style, such as Andre 3000 and Pharrell's vocals and John Mayer's guitar. Earl Sweatshirt of Odd Future fame also makes an appearance on the Benny-and-the-Jets sounding "Super Rich Kids".

Diverse, driving, and poignant, Frank Ocean's second release builds on the success of his debut album Nostalgia, Ultra (2011), which featured audio samples of Coldplay, Eagles and Radiohead songs. Channel ORANGE is catchy and relentlessly entertaining. Kanye, Usher, Jay-Z, and Eminem may represent the present of hip-hop, R&B, and rap, but Frank Ocean is the future. Do not change the channel.

83/100