First, the statement/announcement made on Frank Ocean's tumblr earlier this month...
It's significant and quite frankly, `Radical.' Right now, it's almost impossible to write a review without talking about, or at least mentioning, the letter. Read it if you haven't already. It's important. And at the time this review was written, tons of celebrities have already offered their reactions, read: Russell Simmons, Chuck D, Solange Knowles, Stephen Hill, and then, of course Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. And many others, to follow, I'm sure.
But enough about the letter. There's music to talk about and questions to answer. Like, is this album any good? Does André 3000 deliver on the track `Pink Matter?' And, what does the John Mayer collaboration track actually sound like? Let's start by answering all of that right now: yes, the album is very good. Yes André 3000 delivers (and more) on arguably, and probably, one of the better (if not best) tracks of this record. And John Mayer doesn't say anything because `White' is an instrumental track and it sounds like what you would expect: Frank Ocean and John Mayer, in the studio, jamming together. But the track is chill, virtuosic and pretty damn good. And for a track that doesn't seem to say much, it says a lot, even without any lyrics. But onto the album itself, as a whole.
First and foremost, for those not in-the-know, Frank Ocean is 24, he's an R&B singer, and yes, he is a member of the infamous Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective/crew/group/club (what-have-you) Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA). And when I listen to the record, I think R. Kelly and Kid Cudi and Kanye West, largely because Channel Orange sounds like all of the good things from all of those artists, (the singing from R. Kelly, the synth-laden soundscapes and beats from Kid Cudi and the charisma, coolness and confidence of Kanye West, albeit a little more low-key) all packaged into one neat little box, or I guess, CD case (or MP3 download or Vinyl).
People are probably going to be talking about Channel Orange for a little while. Probably, because of the letter, and also, because of how damn good it is. The most talked-about/hyped album right now, for sure. So again, you may want to know, is Channel Orange any good? In short, yes, it's damn good.
This is a solid and cohesive album, 17 tracks in all, complete with intros, instrumental interludes and outros (yeah, we definitely called those skits back in the 90s and early 00s) but everything on Channel Orange sounds focused and with purpose. And I say `focused' and `with purpose' because Channel Orange is not littered with guests. Just Earl Sweatshirt, John Mayer (who doesn't even sing or anything, remember that!) and André 3000. The track titles themselves are pretty remarkable (I think) and full of gumption (`Super Rich Kids,' `Pyramids,' `Pink Matter,' `Forrest Gump,' etc.) and rest assured, it never drags (55 minutes and then some).
Album highlights include:
Thinkin Bout You
Super Rich Kids (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)
White (feat. John Mayer)
Pink Matter (feat. André 3000)
As a whole, Channel Orange is, quite honestly, probably the definitive R&B album this side of 2012. And this is what 2012 R&B sounds like. So, Channel Orange is probably what I mean when I write things like "timeless music," and "summer music," and "really good," and "this means something," but... in the end "i don't know anything & neither do you."