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CD Review: Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange’

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Shea Serrano

The Details

Frank Ocean
Channel Orange
Three and a half stars

Channel Orange is the debut album from singer Frank Ocean, who contributed to Jay-Z and Kanye’s heavily hyped 2011 album Watch the Throne, and who belongs to the also hyped rap (and stuff) conglomerate Odd Future. That’s probably why it felt so reflexive when Orange came with its own buildup.

The bulk, in short: In the days leading up to its release, Ocean wrote on his Tumblr about once falling in love with a man. Some lauded his bravery and boldness, others questioned the timing, but we all agree on one point: The album is good. It has uneven moments, rolling up into itself in its quixotic interludes, but ultimately succeeds as a contemporary, Internetian reboot of traditional R&B. He dances in front of keyboard tinks and elevator atmospherics on “Sweet Life” and bleeds emotion all over the organ-rich “Bad Religion,” always sounding confident and interesting.

Orange might not prove to be Ocean’s seminal work, but it manages to outrun its own hype, and that’s no small feat.

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