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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 rapgenius.com 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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Dr. King's Childhood Home Sold For $1.9 Million To The National Park Service

The two-story Atlanta home that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr spent his formidable years has been sold. According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the yellow and brown house on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta was sold for $1.9 million to the National Park Service.

Will Shafroth, CEO of the National Park Foundation said it was hard to place a dollar amount on the location where a lot of Dr. King's character was molded.

"It is difficult to value something this significant in our nation’s history. It is a priceless asset. It is one of the most important places to tell the story of America,” Shafroth said.

Bernice King, daughter of late the civil rights leader, said the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change had been considering selling the home since the passing of their mother Coretta Scott, in 2006. King said the center will focus on nonviolent educational and training programs.

“We are working on creating more robust, nonviolence training,” King said. “Our society is desperately in need of Dr. King’s nonviolent teachings right now in order to create a just, humane and peaceful world. That is what we are trying to put our energy in.”

The home was reportedly built by a white firefighter in 1895 and then purchased by Dr. King's maternal grandfather, Rev. Adam Daniel Williams, who was pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church for $3,500. When King's mother and father wed in 1927, they moved. All of King's siblings including himself were born in the home.

Elizabeth Paradis Stern, spokeswoman for the National Park Service said the preservation of the home will not falter now that it's out of the family's possession.

“The most important thing about this is that this property will be protected and preserved permanently as one of our most important properties,” Stern said. “It is part of the American fabric.”

READ MORE: New Book Details Dr. King's Teenage Years And His Alleged White Girlfriend

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Donnie McClurkin Sent To Hospital Following Car Accident

Gospel legend Donnie McClurkin couldn't be more grateful after surviving a car accident this past Wednesday (Dec. 12).

The "We Fall Down" singer was driving on the road in the earlier part of the day when he passed out and began weaving into traffic. He reportedly struck the middle concrete island.

Following the incident, he posted a selfie of him on the hospital bed in scrubs on Facebook. Along with the photo, he explained that he woke up from the accident with stitches on his left thumb, on top of having a sprained wrist, and hurt knee. His car was also completely totaled.

"I AM ALIVE!!!! Somewhat mangled, stitches on left thumb, sprained wrist, hurt knee, but I’m still here! God and two angels saved my life!," the Grammy-winning artist wrote.

He also mentioned that two "angels" pulled him out the car to safety and medical attention. "I owe them...I am still here by the grace of God! Thank you, Lord...thank you!" he added.

On Friday (Dec. 14), McClurkin posted to his Facebook page again, sharing several photos of his destroyed car. "This is the totaled car that two angels rescued me from ....after passing out while driving I don’t remember most of what happened a day and a half ago...but God," he wrote. "I overrode doctors and sisters advice and flew to KENYA today for ministry Saturday @ TWO RIVERS. and home on this Sunday to celebrate life."

In happier news, McClurkin also took time to plug in his new Christmas single titled "My Favorite Things." Check out McClurkin's posts on social media and stream his new song below.

READ MORE: Big K.R.I.T. Drops Surprise Gospel-Influenced 'Thrice X' EP

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Nicki Minaj's Boyfriend Kenneth Petty Received 18 Violations During Prison Stint

Nicki Minaj's new boyfriend, Kenneth Petty has a very troubled past.

On Friday (Dec. 14), TMZ revealed court documents disclosing Petty's history of disciplinary actions while he was an inmate in New York for manslaughter from 2006 to 2013.

When he entered the correctional facility, he was reportedly written up for creating a disturbance. Later during his stint, he was hit with a slew of disciplinary actions following a series of violent actions that included fighting, making terroristic threats, and "disobeying a direct order."

In 2009, prison faculty placed him in solitary confinement for four months as part of being reprimanded for nine different violations. Petty lost privileges that included the usage of the inmate telephone service, recreational activity, and the prison canteen.

In addition to his prison violations, Petty is a convicted sex offender. At the age of 16, he was tried as an adult served a four-year sentence for attempted rape of a minor.

Petty, who hails from the same borough as Nicki, Queens, knew the platinum-selling rap star since she was a teenager. They dated for a short period years prior to reuniting.

Minaj posted various photos of her and Petty going on a vacation getaway earlier this month. Sources close to Minaj told the celebrity gossip website that the 36-year-old hip-hop artist is  "happier than she's been in years" with Petty.

 

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READ MORE: Nicki Minaj Plans To Sue 'Daily Mail' TV Host Jesse Palmer

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