Unlike anything music’s ever heard, unlike any cable channel we’ve ever watched – Channel Orange is a channel no cable company can provide.
Channel Orange serves as a vivid channel with HD details of Frank Ocean’s deepest thoughts and rawest emotions. The title Channel Orange is reportedly the color Frank saw when he first fell in love, but the color orange is also a power color said to inspire creativity and boast the power to heal.
Besides the tracks receiving overwhelming approval: “Pyramids,” “Bad Religion, “Pink Matter” and “Forrest Gump,” tracks like “Sierra Leone” grab my attention.
“Sierra Leone” seems to be the tale of a teenage love affair that describes Frank’s irresponsibility, but metaphorically describes him being in possession of her “preciousness” to that of the African nation of Sierra Leone’s precious minerals.
The love ballad “Sierra Leone” is a stark contrast to the homosexual expressions vocalized in “Forrest Gump,” and seems quite blissful compared to the bittersweet-ness of the self-proclaimed realest love.
After listening to his track “Thinkin Bout You” (released a little over a year ago) a little deeper, I realized that the lyrics weren’t about the heterosexual love affair I constructed in my own single-woman thoughts, but are about that faithful summer when he was 19.
“You know you were my first time, a new feel/ It will never get old, not in my soul, not in my spirit, keep it alive.”
Finally connecting the two, I also realized the video of Frank hashing out the song tentatively titled “Summer Remains” months ago, is also about the summer where he first experienced “true love.”
“Too cold this side of June/ it ain’t natural/ I’ll rebel, I’ll rebel/but it ain’t natural/I take care, I take care/It’s just not growing well/I’m no match for you/It’s not hard to tell/this isn’t going well.”
Frank Ocean loves hard. The love he loves hurts.
The pain he feels is unimaginable. Unimaginable, because he can’t express it beyond his inner thoughts. Unimaginable, because his love is unreturned, or “unrequited” as he would sing.
His love that feels the most real, the truest, is covered by hazy grey matter that affects the memory and emotion of such a painful time plagued by mostly clear confusion, as oxymoronic as it may sound.
Frank’s melancholy mood and pensive state of mind throughout the album is full of sorrow and quite disheartening, despite the overwhelming majority who have experienced love lost or the inability to love the one who truly makes your heart warm.
Though the album’s underlying theme seems to be all about Frank’s personal experiences, Channel Orange isn’t completely about Frank.
Being the great songwriter he is, Frank often pulls inspiration from others to create narratives of addiction, triumph, and sorrow.
Tracks like “Crack Rock” seem to be a direct correlation between Frank and his musician grandfather, who was once addicted to heroine, crack and alcohol.
Frank’s grandfather has since overcome his addiction, but lyrics like, “You’re smokin stones in abandoned homes/ You’re hittin stones and broke your home,” represent a struggle more complex than his own.
Other tracks like “Super Rich Kids” discuss the difficulties of California’s empty and privileged.
Despite Frank’s recent revelation of gay love and bisexual lifestyle, Channel Orange is far from a coming out memoir on wax.
Channel Orange embodies the perils of love encompassed by any classic American romance.
The love, lies, pain, joy, certainty, and indifference make for good music, but Frank Ocean’s concise construction, arrangement of colloquy, unwavering fearlessness, and unapologetic honesty make Channel Orange one of the most groundbreaking R&B albums since Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.
With all the ideals or emotions you may take away with a deep listen of Frank’s debut album, one thing is for sure, Channel Orange solidifies the notion that we ALL love love, even though love seems to hate us.
Brittany Lewis is the Music Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Brittany considers herself seasoned on all the pop culture ish that matters. Follow her on Twitter @Buttercup_B.