July 5th, 2012
Frank Ocean Doesn’t Necessarily Come Out Of The Closet So Much As Tells The Story Of A 19-Year-Old Summer Love (For A Man)
Frank Ocean’s an exciting talent. And if you’re one of the lucky ones to already have tickets for his Wednesday, July 25th Union Transfer date, the show you’ll be attending just earned a little more gravity. See, Ocean has a Tumblr, or at least, a very simple (seemingly) self-controlled website. And the other day, on his site, he posted a very interesting photo – just text, somewhat of a screen capture with the simple title “thank you’s” at the top. It seems, we know now, that this was vaguely intended to be included in the liner notes of his forthcoming channel ORANGE, due out July 17th. You have to read the whole thing in all of its all-caps Letter Gothic stream-of-consciousness messiness. It’s as soulful and sweet as his glorious mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can stream it or download it on DatPiff and it’s fantastic. And until the 17th, you can listen to the new jam, “Pyramids.”
His name’s been splashed all over the internets. Frank Ocean “comes out” and Ocean “opens up about his sexuality.” When, really, he just kind of thanks a man who affected him in his youth. It’s a poem, or at least, it’s fascinating and compelling prose. It’s a thank you to the man who he fell in love with but who never loved him the way he hoped or wanted to be loved. Yes, he talks about girls in his music, singing and rapping about female bodies and being “in the game” for the women. And in the note he mentions girls he thought he was in love with, but that still doesn’t mean he couldn’t love a woman now. But in our culture, bisexuality isn’t really what people want to talk about. We like dichotomies and extremes. We want people to come out, usually, as one or the other. And it’s been a wild past few weeks with the Entertainment Weekly cover story and the email from Anderson Cooper that Andrew Sullivan shared with his readers where he admits to loving men. Thankfully, it’s becoming less and less of a frightening issue to come out of the closet, but perhaps not so in the world of hip-hop.
We really don’t have any male queer hip-hop stars to cheer on, while we have had a little taste of females like Azealia Banks admitting to getting down with others of the same sex. Hip-hop loves a rhyme that uses gay slurs and misogyny. Male rappers have been flowing about cars, women, sex, drugs, style and game since the dawn of rap. So what now? Will channel ORANGE get an extra-critical gaze after we know that he might fall in love with a man as readily as he’d fall in love with a woman? He’s just at the beginning of his journey at 24 years of age, and it should be fascinating to watch him mature, but will he achieve stardom by rapping about women AND men? For now, he’s one of the most exciting talents in the R&B-flavored hip-hop field and we’re kicking ourselves for not jumping on some tickets.