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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: OFWGKTA’s FRANK OCEAN

Posted in Artist Spotlight, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 6, 2011 by bangbangslang

Since the passing of R&B Doggfather, Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale, BBS has been feeling very soulful. Last week found us at Lincoln Hall for Destroyer and War on Drugs – our second favorite show of 2011 – and while the concert held promise as a sign of amazing indie rock crashing down the pipeline in Chicago, we couldn’t keep these funky feelings at bay. Couldn’t shake ’em and didn’t want to. We embraced them. We’re like – ‘Fuck this scene right now. We just want to grind on some R. Kelly and sip bubbly”. Chris Brown‘s “Deuces” remix has been on blast (don’t hate – Drake, T.I., Kanye, Fabolous, Rick Ross, & Andre 300?!), loving this mixtape by Toronto’s The Weeknd (free download below), and have concluded that the constant in this R&B equation has been OFWGKTA‘s smooth singer/songwriter – Frank Ocean. He’s the catalyst.

The Weeknd – House of Balloons

DOWNLOAD: HERE

Frank Ocean‘s debut, “nostalgia, ULTRA”, is just plain sick – the most impressive R&B album (that’s not really R&B) to hit our ears in years . The 23 year-old New Orleans native often leans on left-field rock samples to aid the tone of the album, but balances the mood with the elements you’d expect to find on a Pharrell project or on BET After Hours – the end product is very soulful and  fresh to death. For example, Ultra‘s first full-length song jocks Coldplay‘s beat for “Strawberry Swing“, copping the same song title even, but the song doesn’t evoke Chris Martin‘s goofball, rainbow Sgt. Pepper costume, but rather a wave of nostalgic imagery in the form of young lovers, spaceships leaving behind a “dying earth”, and a painstaking breakup. By the albums’ end, Ocean references Radiohead, Van Halen, Coachella and samples MGMT and The Eagles (and another track that sounds a little Kanye-heavy via 808’s & Heartbreak). There’s even a Nicole Kidman soundbit that gets some love, a heated argument of one-liners on Kidman‘s end from Eye Wide Shut. Bananas. All the while, these sampled cuts sound fresh – just as fresh as the songs that stand alone from the “borrowed” approach that will no doubt have Ocean‘s fanbase doubled once Odd Future barfs all over the rest of America by summertime.

The album’s shining moment is the bass-heavy, perfectly personified  “Swim Good” – here Frank Ocean finds himself heartbroken, in a black suit, driving his whip into the ocean, swimming away from the heaviness of relationships and life’s bullshit. The song ends with a sound clip of waves crashing and bubbling onto shores of a beach somewhere seemingly far away, seagulls chirping, wind blowing. Ocean‘s strongest quality as a songwriter is his ability to create really tangible and visceral imagery and this is showcased from start to finish on Ultra. When he’s not painting himself as R&B’s Johnny Cash, full-throttle, headfirst into the Pacific, he’s having “cocaine for breakfast (yikes!)” in a dirty kitchen and shooting porn in a nearby bedroom or banging a girl in the bed of a garden, “making love underneath the cherry leaves, up against the cherry tree”. The imagery can be super gritty, but it’s very candid and Frank Ocean isn’t afraid to be human. One of the best genre-crossing bold voices in music right now.

Odd Future, Tyler the Creator, blah blah blah blah – Frank Ocean is swimming to success and swimmin’ good.

 

Frank Oceannostalgia, ULTRA

DOWNLOAD: HERE

 

BBS will be catching Odd Future‘s set at COACHELLA next Friday. Will you be there?

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: HERE

FRANK OCEAN OFFICIAL TWITTER: HERE