"Don’t Change the Channel"

by Derrykah Webber

“I wanna see ya pom poms from the stands. Come on, come on.” The hit song "Forrest Gump" written by one of my favorite artists may have been the start to a new established mindset that I can personally say, shaped my personality as a whole. The debut album Channel Orange is a spectacular work that depicts a strong and vivid idea of Frank Ocean’s sexuality and sincere being. Christopher Lonny Breaux, better known by his stage name ‘Frank Ocean’ was born on October 28th 1987 in Long Beach, California. Frank was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana where he was exposed to the jazz scene as well as his mother’s R&B CD’s. Music became a passion; he was talented in that of singing, writing and performing. Due to dilemmas with his academic growth, he traveled back to California to begin his career as a remarkable artist. Frank Ocean began his career as a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter can be best defined as a person who writes one or numerous speeches, books, articles or songs for another person who is named as or presumed to be the author. In this case, Ocean wrote songs for artists such as Beyoncé and Justin Bieber. Being introduced to OFWGKTA founder, Tyler the Creator gave Frank Ocean an inspiration to take his ‘songwriting’ a long way, he began to endorse his many talents.

Released on July 10th of the year 2012 was Channel Orange. This album changed the hip-hop game forever. Frank was lowkey just a few months before releasing his mixtape ‘Lonny Breaux.’ The combination of rapping and singing was just a dope mix. I mean, you see artists who are versatile in their work but Frank was just... different to me. He doesn’t use vulgar language yet; his choice of words can still seduce your mind. This is definitely one of my favorite albums of all time; it speaks to my soul. If I had to describe this album in one word, I would have to say its ‘idiosyncratic,’ a peculiarity of the physical or the mental constitution. I was in awe with his quirky personality and ability to convey and communicate ideas with smooth and distinctive vocals. Those skills allowed him to catch the attention of his fans, especially myself.

Channel Orange isn’t just your average album that doesn’t necessarily tell a story, should be played from beginning to end to fully understand the message being told. Yes, I am fully aware that an artist’s work is designed to display a message but Frank’s way of showing it is rather remarkable. If we look back to where Frank began writing, we see themes such as unrequited love, decadence, class, and drugs. These themes are greatly used throughout this album. Being that Frank Ocean writes all of his music, he is credible to all that occurs in his songs. The stories that are told relate to his past experiences. We all know in 2012 Ocean revealed his love for those of the same sex and his soon to be added in the LGBT community. Being that this album was released in 2012, gay marriage was not legal. In all, being a homosexual wasn’t as open and free willed as it is today. Frank Ocean was one of the first African American MALE artists to openly vouch his sexuality. This started a movement, a lot of support from fellow colleagues, but most importantly his fans. He wasn’t sure if he would be fully supported yet, I discovered there were many scenarios where he would reveal his sexuality. For example, in the song “Thinking Bout You” it embodies the lyrical definition is about his sexuality. It discusses the pain and suffering that comes along with thinking of someone all the time; in this case that ‘someone’ was a man. In my opinion, I’m not attracted to the same sex but, I do understand how hard it must be to love someone who doesn’t necessarily love you the same way. Although Frank Ocean revealed his sexuality, the song Pink Matter confused me. "Pink Matter" displays a true love for the vagina. He mentions peaches and mangos which we know are the fruit of pussy. I think this song was a cover-up or just a way to throw the audience off. 

All in all, Channel Orange depicts a deeper message than just the song names. I mean do you know how it feels to hide who you truly are to abide by another person’s judgment? To put on a facade, for years is hard, I feel as though he didn’t think he would be accepted for his true being. Openly discussing his sexuality changed his persona as a whole, he is an artist with a plan and a mind that creates gold. In my opinion, although he has fallen off for the past two years, he has a chance to establish an album to gain the hearts of his fans.