Frank Ocean 'Channel Orange' Album Review: Life Isn’t That Good

Frank Ocean knows our dirty little secrets. Beneath our cleverly constructed reality and premeditated status updates, there’s much more than we’re willing to let go. With his deceptively modest debut, Channel Orange, the 24-year-old singer-storyteller unearths those muddy truths, whether it’s dissolving the candy casings of luxury, chronicling the crash after a high or the heartache that inexplicably mooches off love. Everyone’s not happy here. Amplified by his fleeting falsetto and talk-rap narration (our own R&B Morgan Freeman), his anecdotes twist everything wrong about love, sex, drugs, excess and religion into a complicated orgy. There’s religion to cope with loss, splurges to suppress misery, white lines to mask the pain. It’s a story about others, and sometimes him, but mostly you.

Since Frank laid out his sexuality for the world’s prodding, there’s been plenty of talk about the subjects of his lyrics. The letter explains how his unreciprocated love for a male friend inspired his well-received debut project, Nostalgia Ultra, and this one, too. You can hear his tale beautifully in “Thinkin Bout You,” “Bad Religion” and “Forrest Gump.” But for the most part, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All’s quiet storm is an outsider observing foreigners by viewing it from their side. He’s interested in how and why people embrace vices as fix-its and risk their lives for the sake of pleasure. Through them, he learns himself.

As others have pointed out, he uses a series of vignettes to detail the trappings of wealth (“Sierra Leone,” “Sweet Life,” “Super Rich Kids”), drugs (“Pilot Jones,” “Crack Rock”), sexual appetite (“Pyramids,” “Lost”) and blind faith (“Monks,” “Bad Religion”), all of which intersect. Musically, he leans on rock and funk and Elton John of course, and there’s soul behind his bottomless lyrics—restrained keys and mild drum riffs, Stevie Wonderisms and a little of John Mayer designed to subtly coddle his stories; something that’s just there to fit his plot into. The album’s slow pacing may even test your patience (sorry, “Pink Matter” begs for a skip every time, Andre 3000 greatness and all).

You’ll hear a lot about stories when it comes to Frank. Rightfully. Lots of his songs are formatted like novels, with protagonists, many perspectives and sideline characters: the indifferent taxi driver in “Bad Religion” and the maids in “Super Rich Kids” who wander oblivious to the mischief because, well, “they must don’t care.” Those two, plus “Pilot Jones” (with its “ice-cold” refrain), all kick off with quick prologue set-ups. He’s also skilled at plopping in phrases that flow like free writing sessions: “Domesticated paradise, palm trees and pools”; “Mosh pits and bare chests/Stage-diving sky diver.” It all seems intentional. He probably excelled in English.

Amid the ruin, there’s self-reflection throughout Channel Orange. People have to deal with their choices. Some presumably learn. Others fall in or fold. A song about temptation, “Pilot Jones” sees its main subject succumbing to a dealer-seductress. In the sequel, “Crack Rock,” a druggie, maybe that same crackhead, endures his addiction despite the consequences, like not being able to hold babies: “Your family stopped inviting you to things/Won’t let you hold their infant.” Built into that personal storyline is a larger assessment on the drug trade and police corruption. Frank’s concerned with how we easily remove ourselves from other people’s narratives (“Don’t no one disrupt nirvana/Don’t no one wanna blow the high”). But you can tell he’s got faith in empathy.

Besides the Odd Future ties (and Kanye West and Jay-Z), Frank’s hip-hop sensibilities are blatant. He spits on several tracks—he followed Hov, he said, and wrote all the lyrics to Nostalgia, Ultra in his head. He crafts his songs like puzzles that require multiple readings or visits to to fathom. It’s hard to label it. And everyone won’t love it. But where else can glass dicks, buttercream silk shirts and a coke white tiger collide. Dissecting it almost seems fruitless. —Clover Hope (@clovito)

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Ty Dolla $ign Releases New Album Feat. Nicki Minaj, Roddy Ricch, Kanye West And More

After a three-year album hiatus, Ty Dolla $ign released his latest studio effort, Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, on Friday (Oct. 23).

The 25-track album features appearances from Nicki Minaj, Kid Cudi, FKA Twigs, Roddy Ricch, Jhené Aiko, Kehlani, 6lack, Young Thug, Music Soulchild, Skrillex, Quavo, Anderson Paak, Post Malone, Kanye West, and more.

Powered by previously released singles, “Ego Death,” Expensive” and By Yourself,” the new album flexes a different music muscle for the Grammy-nominated recording artists who steered clear of  making club records.

“I was intentionally trying to not make club songs [talking about] hoes and *itches and all the sh*t I used to talk about,” Ty told Vulture in a recent interview. “I was trying to, like, talk about my life, and what it is now, and really do something different with it. I got a daughter going to high school this year, and she’s paying attention, and all her friends are paying attention, so I can’t talk as crazy or do the crazy sh*t that I used to do.”

Stream Featuring Ty Dolla Sign below.

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Jay Z Launches His Own Cannabis Brand

Jay Z is venturing into the world of cannabis. The  mogul officially announced the launch of his new cannabis brand, Monogram, on Friday (Oct. 23) marking his first product collaboration since becoming chief brand strategists of the Northern California-based dispensary, Caliva, last year.

“Monogram seeks to redefine what cannabis means to consumers today,” the company said in a press release. As many marijuana storefronts have implemented new rules amid the global pandemic, Monogram is also planing to launch an e-commerce sales option, “In an effort to provide a more tailored customer experience.”

Caliva and Hov opened their first Southern California storefront last year. Besides providing quality products, Hov aims to use his position at Caliva to help the formerly incarcerated (many of whom are not reaping the benefits of marijuana legalization) through advocacy, job training, and employee and workforce development.

According to the company website, Monogram uses “expert growers” to ensure that each marijuana flowers receives the “respect it deserves” in every stage of the growth process. Additionally, Monogram flowers are grown in small batches so that every plant gets “personalized attention.”

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Kehlani Plays Bryson Tiller’s Love Interest In “Always Forever” Video

Kehlani stars as Tiller’s love interest in the intimate new music video for “Always Forever,” released on Thursday (Oct. 22).

The stunning visual, directed by Glenn Michael of Toronto’s Kid Studio, is a creative take on how a relationship can become your entire universe. Tyler and Kehlani cuddle up, kiss, and hold hand in the steamy visual, prompting some fans to question the chemistry between the two. They might look pretty cozy, but Kehlani and Tiller are just friends (Tiller welcomed a child with girlfriend Kendra Bailey last year).


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🌎🎥💫Thanks Guys. #alwaysforever @kidstudio_ @ichiki @kehlani

A post shared by [ Bryson ] (@brysontiller) on Oct 22, 2020 at 12:35pm PDT

Kehlani shared some close-up stills from the music video on Instagram along with a message thanking Tiller for being a “solid” friend. “To one of my dearest friends…matching tattoos, years worth of stories, nights of dying laughter and holding each other down in the roughest times…I’m so proud of you. Thank you for being solid.”

The post was deleted after fans in the comments continued to speculate if the two were an item. Kehlani shared a follow-up message on her Instagram Story explaining in part, “I post lengthy captions about all my friends. You would have to follow me to know that.”


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#Roommates, #Kehlani explains her previous message to #BrysonTiller. (SWIPE for previous post)

A post shared by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on Oct 22, 2020 at 11:53am PDT

“Always Forever” is the latest single from Tiller’s newly released ANNIVERSARY LP.

Watch the video below.

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