Apparently I’ve been missing out, Mixtapes seem to be more risky and adventurous than most major label LP’s. Thanks to Pitchfork (and Beyonce news), I discovered Frank Ocean this weekend. Ocean is a part of the highly buzzed about Hip Hop outfit Odd Future, and on his Mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra” he takes the R&B route albeit over very Rock and Alternative leaning tracks. On one interlude he talks about how women expect him to take the Jodeci route “what’s a Radiohead anyway”, still Ocean sticks to his musical guns and sings over tracks from Coldplay and The Eagles to surprisingly wonderful results. He also turns some very simplistic tracks into some very thought provoking and compelling songs. What sets him apart from Drake or Kid Cudi, the two acts you could closely compare his sound to, is he doesn’t talk about the typical things in his songs. On the standout “We All Try” he calls out for the world to believe in something “I just don’t believe we’re wicked, I know that we sin, but I do believe we try“. “Lovecrimes” and “Songs for Women” are almost totally different than run of the mill radio R&B love songs. And the way he takes Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing” and MGMT’s “Electric Feel” (for “Nature Feel”) and totally transforms them into songs that become his own, just lyrically and vocally, is near amazing. His spin on The Eagles classic and iconic “Hotel California” (“American Wedding”) does the same thing, and it’s truly genius.
Lyrically, Frank Ocean is more than fresh and a much needed change from hearing the same stories in R&B and Hip Hop. Vocally he’s on point as well, his voice does have traces of the aforementioned Kid Cudi but with much more confidence. At many points in the album, with his phrasing and his creative runs he takes on a bit of a Brandy vibe just slightly more masculine. Frank is a talent that apparently nearly got wasted, this mixtape was released by him accompanying a tumblr tirade against his label Def Jam who he feels didn’t care about him as an artist. Hopefully the world will take note of his immense and unique talents and we’ll be hearing more from him in the coming years, he truly deserves the fame that some lesser talents have.