Best Music of 2012

Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

on December 11, 2012, 12:02pm
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On the next page are Frank Ocean’s words, my words, and a few other people’s words presented chronologically to offer a snapshot of the year of Frank Ocean.

It was through his Tumblr that Ocean released previews, tracklists, songs, videos, and aphorisms from his life. His music and personality was initially disseminated around the world through this port, fueled in part by a cabal of Odd Future cohorts and Def Jam records, who put out his 2012 album channel ORANGE.

If I kept a Tumblr dedicated to reflecting solely on Frank Ocean, what follows is possibly what it would have contained.

ocean wings on Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

December 27, 2011

really wish it was legal and socially acceptable to lite a j on this plane right now.

there’s a genie somewhere in a bottle who can grant me this wish. private planes sooner than later.

fuck. that was hard to write. dec. 27th.

Reblogged from frankocean

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January 1, 2012

day 4 in one way, day 1 in another. day 8,824 in the grand scheme of things.

putting down the gun for a while.

Reblogged from frankocean

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January 3, 2012

day 7. it gets easier

Reblogged from frankocean

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January 4, 2012

day 8.

it’s sort of a break-up.

Reblogged from frankocean

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January 21, 2012

Distorted frequencies

Reblogged from frankocean 

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February 24, 2012

in 30 years i’ll be legend or an obscure tastemaker reference.

leonardo dicaprio has a t-rex head in his living room. obscure shit can’t get me a raptor skeleton in my solarium. fuck, i want a solarium. daydreams.

Reblogged from frankocean
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March 27, 2012

I hope when i meet prince for the first time, he quotes something obscure and releases a dove.

Reblogged from frankocean

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April 22, 2012

No matter how dim it gets wherever i am

I never quit working. I work in the dark cause work is light. I tell my work all my problems because it never gives answers i have already. It never edits without me. Doesn’t call me names. I give my work away, because it doesn’t cost me much. In fact i’m indebted. I work hard since life is hard. Death is a soft place, it can wait. But work ain’t love. And love ain’t work. For sure.

Reblogged from frankocean

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May 7, 2012

 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

Reblogged from frankocean

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May 31, 2012

tumblr m4vcauuncg1qdrz3yo1 400 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

my favorite shirt.

Reblogged from frankocean

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June 8, 2012

frank ocean channel orange Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

nostalgia, ULTRA –> channel ORANGE

“Pyramids” is straight-up insane. It’s like a 10-minute syllabus on R&B and funk and soul and pop. It’s almost a club song, but it’s too slow. It’s almost a slow jam, but it takes too long to break it down. It’s almost a club hit, but then it never commits to the beat. It’s got Bootsy bass and Egyptian lore in the beginning, then transubstantiates Cleo into a modern-day stripper working at The Pyramid (n.b. a cursory search brings up the only strip club with the word “pyramid” in it as Pyramid of Pleasure located outside St. Louis, MO, whose city nickname coincidentally just happens to be The Rome of the West — I’M JUST SAYIN’) plus that Eddie Hazel guitar at the end. Jesus — and to say that it’s a two-part song would be ignoring several shag-carpeted/velvet-couch rooms the song peaks into.

How many stories is he trying to tell in 10 minutes? “Pyramids” is an extended pop riddle that just stretches 2000 years into the romantically corrupt past only to take us to a bleary and romantically corrupt future. The more things change?

Think this might be a good album.

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June 27, 2012

pyramids is a 10 minute long single. i trolled the music industry

via @frank_ocean

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July 4, 2012

tumblr m6me6usdo81qdrz3yo1 1280 e1354754566157 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

Man, he wrote that on a plane coming home from “another marred Christmas” December 27th of last year.

Reblogged from frankocean

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July 6, 2012

sweet life frank ocean Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

“The best song wasn’t the single / But you weren’t either” gains VIP entry to the Best Opening Line club. How can he talk about “keeping it surreal” when this is straight up the jazziest, funkiest track I’ve heard in a hot minute. This is organic. No woozy synths, it’s sharp. The vocals are Voodoo (especially those harmony slides at 3:23 oh shit)That Rhodes sprinkled in is so Songs in the Key Of Life, maybe he even got Chick Corea to come and play it. Frank Ocean could pull that off — I’m sure he’s got his number.

I guess maybe Ocean’s escape is that warm embrace of slightly detached jazz-funk, not the woozy synths of his contemporaries and smokey atmospherics of his contemporaries. It’s indispensable — the song can’t fit into the trash can. You gotta work if you want to take this thing out to the curb. You can’t even carry it in your arms, there’s too much poking out, too many things moving, like trying to carry a wet puppy in your arms. It’s so full of life that I haven’t stopped playing it. It’s a sunny day. This is my hit of the summer.

I love this song so much.

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July 9, 2012

 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

“…which you can download right now on iTunes.” –Jimmy Fallon

There was an iTunes gift certificate stashed away somewhere in one of my plastic storage bins. A thoughtful but otherwise useless piece of plastic gifted by an Aunt one to three years ago was the only thing that stood between me and 17 .ACC files (ugh) that made up channel ORANGE. I scrambled around my apartment holding my breath trying to find this thing.

Fuck what was my iTunes Store password?

I haven’t bought a song on iTunes since I bought Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” so I could learn it to play at a funeral. Fuck, Ocean was playing “Bad Religion” on Fallon and I was in the other room looking for this dumb…

More air escaped my apartment when Ocean started to sing “Bad Religion” on Fallon, backed only by a small string section and ?uestlove on the snare. I guess everyone from Odd Future kills it when they debut on Fallon?

“He said ‘Allahu Akbar’ I told him ‘Don’t curse me’ / ‘Bo bo you need prayer’ / ‘I guess it couldn’t hurt me.’”

Are these the best lyrics ever written? When has anyone used a song to admit cultural ignorance so eloquently? There’s so much poise and introversion in that line it cut me to the quick.

Ocean and his ubiquitous red and white bandanna were glowing into my apartment, singing this ballad about unrequited love, a “One-man cult / Cyanide in my Styrofoam cup” to a person somewhere in Ocean’s life.

“I could never make him love me”

Well, I guess I know which person.

Found it — 17 more .AAC files about to be mine.

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July 10, 2012

Had this conversation with my friend Lindsay today, who has a passing interest in new music.

screen shot 2012 12 05 at 4.19.13 pm e1354746479274 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

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July 11th, 2012

Teenagers tweeting every lyric of the new Frank Ocean album

Also:

[anychannelorangelyric].tumblr.com

[<a href=”//storify.com/bostonphoenix/teenagers-tweeting-every-lyric-of-the-new-frank-oc” target=”_blank”>View the story “Teenagers tweeting every lyric of the new Frank Ocean album” on Storify</a>]Reblogged from lizpelly

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July 12, 2012

Same

screen shot 2012 12 05 at 5.08.55 pm e1354749023925 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

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July 13, 2012

i see nothing wrong with liking things that other people like. solidarity can be cool. i’m not judging you. you’re still an individual. i’ll even call you ‘indie’ if that makes you feel better.

Reblogged from frankocean

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July 17, 2012

Ha, same.

screen shot 2012 12 05 at 4.31.56 pm e1354746962771 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

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August 5, 2012

frank ocean lollapalooza 2012 larson 2 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

I took this picture of Frank Ocean in Chicago, but at the time, the last thing I wanted to do was take a picture of Frank Ocean. He opened with Sade’s “By Your Side” backed by a Hallmark-store acoustic guitar and the whole time while I’m trying to get in to a position where I can get some light on his face, I’m kicking myself for not being able to just get chills from him singing it so I guess I’ll settle for this janky YouTube from his New York performance which still gives me chills.

Ocean’s band was…interesting. There wasn’t too much of a connection between them and Ocean’s work — and they waffled between spacey synth-funk and boilerplate late-night band. There was nothing “cool” about it at all. You know D’angelo’s live album? It felt kind of like that. I would love to see him go full Prince and get 16 people up there, full horn-section.

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August 17, 2012

they prefer you flawed

via @frank_ocean

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September 16, 2012

 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

SNL’s notorious sound issues faded away. I forgot that Seth McFarlane even did any stupid Family Guy voices earlier in the show. Didn’t even realize that was John Mayer lurking in the shadows on stage. Watching him sing sitting on the same stool, the same stance that he had when he played live in Chicago.

He sings so high on the chorus it sounds like he’s trying to escape out the sentiment. Four years after his first love, he still cries when he thinks about him. The ancillary romances are just false promises: off-limits fighter jets, beach houses in Idaho.

“You know you were my first time / A new feel”

I was tempered in the earnest waters of white dudes singing doleful songs on their acoustic guitars about their girlfriends. Now Frank Ocean’s inversion of the music of my formative years is making those feelings start to accumulate like the Tetris arcade game on the SNL set.

My eyes don’t shed tears but boy they pour when I listen to you.

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September 23, 2012

actually in idaho

via @frank_ocean

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October 5, 2012

 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

Reblogged from nabildo

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October 22, 2012

mitt romney is a manchurian candidate

via @frank_ocean

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November 8, 2012

Reblogged from frankocean

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November 13, 2012 

The first three minutes of Gossip Girl were about all I can stand because it seems like Girls but way goddamn worse. Ocean underscores the episode with four of his songs. Watch it here? If you want?

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November 21, 2012

 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

John Mayer and I were talking in rehearsal before SNL, and he was like, “You love to take the hardest way. You don’t always have to.” But I don’t know about that. It’s like Billy Joel says in that song “Vienna.” When the truth is told / That you can get what you want or you can just get old. We all know we have a finite period of time. I just feel if I’m going to be alive, I want to be challenged—to be as immortal as possible. The path to that isn’t an easy way, but it’s a rewarding way.

 

The night I posted it, I cried like a fucking baby. It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head. All the receptors were now receiving a different signal, and I was happy. I hadn’t been happy in so long. I’ve been sad again since, but it’s a totally different take on sad. There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.

 

In black music, we’ve got so many leaps and bounds to make with acceptance and tolerance in regard to that issue. It reflects something just ingrained, you know. When I was growing up, there was nobody in my family—not even my mother—who I could look to and be like, “I know you’ve never said anything homophobic.” So, you know, you worry about people in the business who you’ve heard talk that way. Some of my heroes coming up talk recklessly like that. It’s tempting to give those views and words—that ignorance—more attention than they deserve. Very tempting…

Some people said, “He’s saying he fell in love with a guy for hype.” As if that’s the best hype you can get in hip-hop or black music. So I knew that if I was going to say what I said, it had to be in concert with one of the most brilliant pieces of art that has come out in my generation. And that’s what I did. Why can I say that? Why I don’t have to affect all this humility and shit is because I worked my ass off. I worked my face off. And the part that you love the most is the easiest part for me. So I’ll do it again.

 Reblogged from GQ

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December 5, 2012

 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

Reblogged from frankocean

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December 6, 2012

Frank Ocean just got six Grammy nods, including Album of the Year, and New Artist of the Year.

He should win them all.

And here’s why:

He knew love was in need of love this year, and only a spurned sage like himself could be eligible to play cupid to the world. That hortative croon sent surreal messages to Alexandria, Ladera Heights, Sierra Leone, Tokyo, Miami, Amsterdam, Phoenix, even Idaho.

He has this glassy, delicate aura. It’s not glitzy like a pre-fab pop star, or precious like a scruffy singer-songwriter. It’s real, or more accurately, surreal. At his concert, from the photo pit, girls (and boys) screamed that kind of scream that you only saw in black & white footage from Rolling Stones or Beatles concerts from the ’60s — full-throated diaphragmatic competitions to see who could show Ocean the most love.

His words are careful, specific, fired down the barrel of a sniper rifle to a specific target that sometimes only he knows. He gave only a few interviews this year, but in those his prose was eloquent and warm, full of quiet love, passion, humor, and pride — all traits found in both his music and his precocious, meditative social media-ing.

And tempering all this is his understated humor. I mean, the album beginning with the sounds of a Playstation starting up and popping in Street Fighter II certainly heaves into his Ultra Nostalgia mindset, but beyond that, Ocean is seriously fucking funny. “Horses gallop to her throat” is the acerbic underdog line of the year from “Sierra Leone”, and “Fertilizer” and “Forrest Gump” are two tongue-in-cheek counterweights that help keep the whole album grounded. Even my favorite couplet from “Bad Religion” is kinda funny when you think about it.

Above all, people connect with Frank Ocean and his music on a personal level because he makes honesty vogue. His letter was the gauntlet for public solitude. I guess that’s one of the things that I’ve noticed about me, my colleagues, my friends, and random strangers on Twitter and Tumblr: all of a sudden being honest in public doesn’t seem insufferable. Even in an album about building other worlds — digital channels, alternate frequencies — for him to escape in, he’s really trying to save the whole ship as opposed to jettisoning off in his own world in a private vessel.

I know people who begrudge him for that — for allowing all these rookie cadets onto the R&B liferaft. All of a sudden there are kids everywhere crowding the space when once it was only a small sect of long-time devotees. Like he said, “i see nothing wrong with liking things that other people like.”

R-Kelly, Usher, How To Dress Well, surprisingly Brandy, sort of Ne-Yo, and especially Miguel all had fantastic R&B albums this year, but channel ORANGE busted the R&B barriers wide open, looking back.

Frank Ocean is the sign of our times.

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December 7, 2012

private jets are overrated

via @frank_ocean

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