HOW DID I MISS THIS: Frank Ocean

The first time I ever heard of Frank Ocean was when I was visiting one of my oldest friends in southern California about two years ago. We were driving down an empty highway during the sunset with pink skies, surrounded by desert-like mountains, and my friend was playing “Pyramids” and singing every word with so much passion. I was really wowed by that song, maybe just because of the setting at that time. Then, the next day or so, we were waiting in a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru and I asked him to play that song again, and that’s pretty much the end of that story.  

Fast forward two years later to June of this summer. I was driving down to the beach in Maryland with a friend of mine, and she started playing “Super Rich Kids.” Again, similar to my experience in southern California, this song “wowed” me. The lyrics were clever, the beat was awesome, his vocals blew me away, and Earl Sweatshirt had a verse! A great one, at that. Over the course of our trip, I kept requesting that song to be played in the car during our long drives. The first thing I did when I got home that weekend? Downloaded Channel Orange. Since then, I know all the words to almost every song, listen to the whole album at least every week, and sing my heart out when appropriate. If only my appreciation for his music had fully set in before I went to Bonnaroo when I had the opportunity to see him after Jack White’s set, but at the time, I was too tired and he wasn’t quite worth staying up for. Yes, I am regretful.  

So, yes… the album did come out in April 2012, he received six Grammy nominations for it, and performed at the Grammys. A lot of hype to go unnoticed until now, right? And then I found out he also worked with Jay Z, Kanye West, and Nas, and wrote songs for Beyoncé, John Legend and Justin Beiber, although it’s probably a good thing I didn’t know the Justin Beiber part before… Also, Odd Future! I already knew about Tyler, the Creator and how he had this rap collective with Earl Sweatshirt and some other names, but I had no idea that it also included Frank Ocean! So, obviously, I was just a bit behind on the “Frank Ocean train,” but I’m totally glad I’m aboard now.    

To our good fortune, new Frank Ocean is in the works and according to his collaborator, Nabil, “It blows the sophomore-album myth out of the water.”

-Alec Moss

VOTD: Frank Ocean — ‘Pyramids’ because the singer isn’t just a rising star anymore — he’s made it. Signs of his meteoric rise include a best-selling debut album (Channel Orange, critically lauded as revamping the wilting R&B genre), a sold-out tour, and a performance on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ The video for ‘Pyramids,’ Ocean’s ode to Cleopatra and strippers, is a hazy trip that sets off with Ocean riding a motorcycle through the desert, hitting up a ghastly strip club, and ends with a hallucination of John Mayer playing a mellow guitar solo.