Artist Review: Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra

| June 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

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Album- Nostalgia, Ultra
Artist- Frank Ocean
Lyrics- A+ Flow A- Beats A+ Originality A- Final Grade A-

With the release of a video for his lead single, if you aren’t hip to Frank Ocean yet, let me bring you up to speed.

For starters, the 23 year-old soul/R&B newcomer moved to Los Angeles in 2005 after he was evacuated from his hometown of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Since that unfortunate event, a lot has happened in the former University of New Orleans student’s favor with writing credits for the likes of Justin Bieber, John Legend, Brandy, and Beyoncé Knowles. On February 19 of this year he released his first album Nostalgia, Ultra but for free?

The Def Jam signee was quick to elaborate on his feelings about his relationship with his label with a twitter eruption stating “i. did. this. not ISLAND DEF JAM. that’s why you see no label logo on the artwork that I DID. guess it’s my fault for trusting my dumbass lawyer and signing my career over to a failing company. fuck Def Jam & any company that goes the length of signing a kid with dreams & talent w/ no intention of following through. fuck em. now back to my day. i want some oatmeal and toast. brunch swag.”

Though Frank is a smooth toned laid back guy, his out-spoken and somewhat rebellious ways are due to the gathered personality of his crew OFWKTA (Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All). The group is the newest hip-hop squadron composed of teenagers complete with producers, artists, and managers led by popular yet controversial artist Tyler the Creator, who was engaged in a twitter beef with Chris Brown this past month.

Opposite the tweets and hoopla, Nostalgia, Ultra is a brilliant debut that is composed of an almost perfect mix of feelings and sound that takes you inside the mind of the young artist. The album production is a professional mix of sounds by Tricky Stewart (Beyonce- “Single Ladies”) and Midi Mafia (Justin Bieber “Down to Earth”) that aren’t similar to any other sounds in the game at this moment.

“Novacane” is the lead track from the album with a hypnotizing hook and an indulging beat by Stewart where Frank reveals that a porn star that he met at Coachella makes love to him and it’s similar to the feeling of Novocain, leaving the body oh so numb.

frank-ocean2Frank Ocean

Another trait that sets Frank apart from other artists is that he has the ability to have hidden themes in his music for the hard listeners. For example, including filmmaker Stanley Kubrick on a number of occasions displays Frank’s deep and dark train of thought in the track “Love Crimes” over some emotion stabbing Congo drums. Talking just underneath the sweet keys of a piano in “Swim Good”, he paints a picture of him driving his Lincoln Town Car into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.  The lyrics of this song standout from others when Frank opens with “/That’s a pretty big trunk on my Lincoln Town Car aint it? / Big enough to take all these broken hearts and put em’ in it/.

In addition to the originality of the album Frank also experimented with vibrant artists such as Coldplay, Mr. Hudson, MGMT, and Radiohead respectively.

Frank has his own distinct voice which will benefit him for years to come, yet his flow and delivery can be found similar to The Dream and one would naturally think Drake but that is just fault to Frank’s tone and the way the tracks are similarly mixed. “Novacane” is a definite top song of 2011 and has the potential to be a world-wide recognized single but the public image and promotion of Frank Ocean will be the only factors delaying the success of that song.

With only 6 months left in the year it’s fictional to say that 2011 will belong to OFWKTA, but the future is looking a little less odd and a bit more promising for Frank Ocean.

Here is the track list and production credits from Nostalgia, Ultra

01. Street Fighter-Intro
02. Strawberry Swing- (G. Berryman , J. Buckland, W. Champion, C. Martin)
03. Novacane- (C. Stewart)
04. We All Try- (H. Perez)
05. Bitches Talkin’- ( T. Yorke , J. Greenwood , E. O’Brien , P. Selway)
06. Songs For Women- ( H. Perez)
07. Love Crimes- (A. Collins)
08. Golden Eye- Interlude
09. There Will Be Tears-( B. Mclldowie)
10. Swim Good- ( M. Nugent, K. Risto)
11. Dust- ( B. Maejor, M. Collins)
12. American Wedding- ( G.Frey, D. Henley , B. Leadon , Randy Meiser, J. Fauntleroy)
13. Soul Calibur-Interlude
14. Nature Feels-( B.Gladwasser, A. Vanwyngarden)

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Hip Hop Historian and accomplished photo journalist

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