Artist of the week: Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean is a man that likes to take his time. Born in Long Beach, California, his family moved to New Orleans when he was five. Growing up in the Louisiana jazz scene, enrolled in the university and witnessed the devastating effects of hurricane Katrina in 2005. He then moved to Los Angeles and began recording some demos that granted him a job as a ghostwriter for the likes of Justin Bieber, John Legend, Brandy and John Legend. He met the Odd Future crew in 2009 and by that time it already seemed an odd pairing: a sophisticated R&B crooner that had already worked with Nas, Pharrell Williams and the Def Jam label featuring as a guest in songs produced by the irascible crew of rap punk skaters. It all made sense with the release of his first mixtape, Nostalgia Ultra, a record that proved not only his singular voice and talent but his total absence of musical snobbery. Success definitely came with 2012’s Channel Orange, which received nearly universal critical acclaim and landed on #2 on the US Billboard. Ocean was subsequently nominated in six Grammy categories and took the award for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
After an exasperating wait of 4 years, Frank Ocean is finally back with some new music. First, with the visual album Endless, a kind of compilation of covers, left-overs and oddities, but mostly with Blond, his much expected sophomore effort. The album is a stark departure from his debut – more dense, layered and mature, but still melodic and soulful. Frank’s back and this arguably the only thing that could only make 2016 even better.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.