Frank Ocean’s “channel ORANGE”

Released: July 10, 2012

Genre: Alternative R&B • progressive soul • neo soul

Label: Def Jam

Producer: Frank Ocean • Jonathan Ikpeazu • Malay • Om’Mas Keith • Pharrell Williams • Shea Taylor • Tyler, The Creator

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Frank Ocean has become one of the most beloved artists in the past decade. Beginning his career as a ghostwriter, he became a member of the hip hop collective Odd Future in 2010. Frank self-released his debut mixtape nostalgia, ULTRA in 2011 to widespread acclaim! That was an amazing move on his end, especially since his label had him feeling neglected. That prompted the label to jump on his newfound success since the mixtape gained him a lot of fans, including Jay-Z, Kanye West & Beyoncé, eventually collaborating with those artists on their projects.

Frank Ocean’s debut studio album Channel Orange was released worldwide on July 10, 2012 exclusively through iTunes to prevent the album from leaking onto the internet. With elements of alternative R&B, progressive soul, neo soul, electro-funk, jazz-funk and psychedelic vibes, Channel Orange stood out from the albums from 2012 for its usage of nonmusical sounds such as film dialogue and ambient noises and its themes of unrequited love, sex, classism, escapism, religion, sexuality, substance abuse and existential longing.

The beauty of Frank Ocean’s artistry is how phenomenal of a songwriter he is. He’s written songs for major artists like Beyoncé, Brandy, Alicia Keys, Justin Bieber, etc & we get a more real look into Frank’s life with certain songs on the album. Around the time the album was released, the singer wrote an open letter on Tumblr, stating that he’s had a relationship with a man when he was 19, and it is still one of the most amazing pieces of art that I’ve ever read. It was an important moment in hip hop history for me because it allowed people to see love from the view from a Black LGBTQ+ man in the world of R&B/Hip-Hop.

Channel Orange sold 131,000 copies during its first week, and has since been certified Gold by the RIAA. The album was nominated for Album of the Year, and Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards, winning the latter. The album has been listed in several rankings for the albums from the 2010s, as well as all time.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange

Start


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho

**features additional vocals by Raymond Buck

Thinkin’ Bout You


Written by Christopher Breaux ・Shea Taylor

Thinkin Bout You was the lead single from the album, and originally written for Bridget Kelly, but released his version of the track on Tumblr. From a lyrical perspective, Thinkin Bout You is a melancholy record that discusses the pain that comes with thinking about someone you used to love all of the time, even if the thoughts and feelings isn’t being reciprocated.

The song gave Frank his first top ten hit on the R&B charts and first top forty hit on the pop charts respectively. Thinkin Bout You has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA. The song was sampled by Eric Bellinger for his Drive By record.

Fertilizer


Written by James Fauntleroy ・Reginald Perry

Fertilizer is a short interlude cover of the song of the same song title by James Fauntleroy, that opens up the darker themes on the album.

Sierra Leone


Written by Christopher Beaux ・James Ho

Sierra Leone is one of my favorite songs from the album, and rightfully so because the production is so top tier!!! It’s a mellow, quiet storm type of vibe, and just an essential song of Frank’s that everyone has to listen to. From a lyrical perspective, Sierra Leone is a song that has the singer talking to a fictional younger version of himself and address sex, conception, childhood dreams and teenage parenting. The metaphors are not subtle in this song, but it is eloquently stated. He uses the metaphor of Sierra Leone’s (which is a country in West Africa for the people who don’t use Google,) pink skies to refer to the girl he was lusting after’s vagina and womb.

Sweet Life


Written by Christopher Beaux ・Pharrell Williams

Sweet Life is an amazing R&B & neo soul record that Frank worked with the legendary producer Pharrell Williams on. From a lyrical perspective, Sweet Life is a song that has to open the rich & wealthy people’s eyes to the struggles that less fortunate people face. Like their wealth has pretty much made them numb to the bullshit “everyday people” face, and to them it’s like “oh well, it’s not me.” The song contains a sample of Stevie Wonder’s Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You).

Not Just Money


Written by Rosie Watson

**features additional vocals by Rosie Watson.

Not Just Money is another interlude that has the mom of Frank’s friend scolding him. It directly leads into the following song.

Super Rich Kids (featuring Earl Sweatshirt)


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho ・Thebe Kgositsile ・Mark Morales ・Nathaniel Robinson Jr. ・Mark Rooney ・Kirk Robinson ・Roy Hammond

Super Rich Kids is definitely one of my favorite records on the album! Featuring Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, the song lyrically addresses how materialistic things can never compare or fulfill someone like love and happiness can. The song contains samples of Real Love by Mary J. Blige, Bennie & The Jets by Elton John & Got to Give It Up by Marvin Gaye.

Pilot Jones


Written by Christopher Breaux ・Shea Taylor

**features additional vocals by Om’Mas Keith and Juliet Buck

Pilot Jones is lyrically about how your first love is practically comparable to a drug.

Crack Rock


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho

**features additional vocals by Om’Mas Keith

Crack Rock is another highlight on the album for me, and it’s lyrical content takes the cake for me. Lyrically, the song speaks to a man overcome by his addiction to crack cocaine and his comments on the War on Drugs in America. Frank’s own grandfather had a huge influence on the record, since he struggled with substance abuse when Frank’s mom was growing up. The song contains a sample of Jimi Hendrix’s Little Miss Lover.

Pyramids


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho

But your love ain’t free no more..

Frank Ocean, Pyramids, 2012.

Pyramids is a SONG okay! The funk & progressive soul influenced record is about a narrative that symbolically captures a historical notation of the Black man and woman in America and our fall from grace. It’s an almost ten minute song with metaphors that refer to Cleopatra, pyramids and strip clubs. The song was a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot R&B songs chart and received a Gold certification by the RIAA.

Lost


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho ・Micah Otano ・Edwin Paul Shelton II

**features additional vocals by Stacy Barthe & Danielle Miranda-Simms.

Released as the fourth single from the album, Lost is a pop & R&B record, lyrically the song is about a drug dealer who has a lover who is lost in the thrill of the lavish lifestyle he has her around, and he wants to believe that one day she will want to live a normal life. The song has had a viral resurgence on TikTok in 2022, and has recently charted in the top 20 on the R&B charts. The song contains samples of the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

White (featuring John Mayer)


Written by Christopher Breaux ・Tyler Okonma

White is an instrumental version of Frank’s song of the same name from the The Odd Future Tape Vol. 2 collaborative effort. The song also features a guitar solo from John Mayer.

Monks


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho

**features background vocals by Lalah Hathaway.

Monks is a song that has the singer discussing the relationship that he had a groupie that he had met while on tour.

Bad Religion


Written by Christopher Breaux ・Monte Neuble ・Charlie Gambetta ・Kevin Risto ・Waynne Nugent

Bad Religion is a song that has the singer initiating a therapy session in the backseat of a cab.

Pink Matter (featuring André 3000)


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho ・André Benjamin

Pink Matter is my favorite song on the album period! Featuring the legendary André 3000, the song is lyrically about sex, betrayal, pleasure and the meaning of life. The song contains samples of the 1985 film The Last Dragon.

Forrest Gump


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho

**features additional vocals by the Crimson Tide Cheerleaders.

The final full length song on the album Forrest Gump is lyrically from the point of view of Forrest’s love interest in the film, who was Jenny. In a way the song can be seen as a metaphor for the feelings Frank still has for his first love.

End


Written by Christopher Breaux ・James Ho

Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange will forever go down in history as one of the best debut albums of the 2010s. It gave new life to the world of alternative R&B and pop culture period. Frank has gone on to release another body of work that’s a continuation to his genius (Blonde,) and numerous other work. We hope it doesn’t take a long time for his next studio album. This is a Frank Ocean Stan account okay! -MW.

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