As 2012 winds down, we will begin to see an onslaught of Year End Wrap Up posts on blogs and websites galore (yes, we’ll have some for you to read soon). Among the most popular Year End Wrap Up posts focus on lists … like movies and albums of the year. Spin magazine has yet to publish a list of their top albums for 2012 but they have made a determination on THE album of the year. This year, they have selected Channel Orange by Frank Ocean as the Album of 2012. Click below to read Spin’s gushing love letter to Ocean’s Orange.
It’s a fool’s game to predict an artist’s longevity off their first album, even if you think that first album is genius and was preceded by a jams-rich catalogue. But it would also be disingenuous not call it like we feel it: Frank Ocean has emerged as one of American music’s greats, potentially of all time. Not simply a pop star or a sizzling phenom or a young flash on a stylist’s resume, though he still blazed through his first-week Billboard charts with the ferocity of Usher and Chris Brown. Frank Ocean is too real … “Mango, peaches, and lime… Why see the world when you got the beach?” Emotion aside, channel ORANGE is Frank Ocean’s version of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral in its vivid depictions of cultural turmoil, a sociological diagnostic in the spirit of Joan Didion’s White Album. (At a channel ORANGE listening session, I even suggested that he seek out the latter, after feeling the parallels between their incisive, love/hate detail for humanity and California.) In retrospect, I hope he never got that book. His voice is his own and should stay that way, unflappable except for the intermittent apparitions of his heroes — Prince, Sam Cooke, and Stevie Wonder the most obvious, although his yen for channel-flipping sonic experimentation recalls Eno and his disciples too … When Ocean revealed his love for a man just prior to channel ORANGE’s release, he claimed no label, ostensibly admitting to fluidity. It’s the same fluidity that turns up in everything he does, whether it’s the flexibility of his music or the elasticity of his voice. All that water imagery — and harmonies to match! The trippy gush of a drum machine and wobbly background vocals on “Sierra Leone” offers nearly full-body submersion, a Brazilian jazz-alluding sex jam that sounds like the sensuality of gradual climax and makes irresponsible raw-dogging sound like the most romantic thing ever. (Don’t do that, though, dudes) … For his non-glossy, non-Terius Nash’d approach to R&B, he has been compared this year to pompadoured Miguel (an evocative singer with a little ways to go) and with the Weeknd (whose drug tales are far more blunt-object than Ocean would ever conjure). As a lyricist, he is closer in spirit to R&B classicists Bilal or Jaheim, or to the old country-and-western greats, or to channel ORANGE’s only guests, Earl Sweatshirt and Andre 3000 — i.e., contemporary storytellers with something singular to say. Maybe Frank Ocean’s next shit is a novel. For now, all we can say with surety is that this is only the beginning.
You can read Spin’s full write up on Channel Orange HERE. While I feel that some parts of this review are a bit much, I deffo agree with their overall contention that Ocean’s album is truly spectacular. I have yet to compile my list of Fave Albums of 2012 but I can tell you this, Channel Orange is definitely on the list. What do y’all think of this review? Do you agree? Do you think Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange is the best album of 2012?