American Wedding was my first introduction to Frank Ocean, released off of the Nostalgia Ultra mixtape in 2011. A few months after playing the song on repeat, partially thanks to its sampling of The Eagle's "Hotel California," Watch the Throne, the album that could be classified as the Roc-a-Fella lovechild of Jay-Z and Kanye West was born. Frank Ocean's distinctive and emotional rifts caught the attention of eardrums everywhere.
The story of his rise and his control of his musical releasing is intriguing in its own right, and his artistic evolution is notable. Channel ORANGE is to this day one of my favorite albums as a whole. His verbal aesthetic includes hitting notes so powerfully then tapering off into these sweet and delicate rifts. It's an emotional rollercoaster in every song, yet his overall delivery is so smooth, consistent and each verse flows into one another, even if the dialogue at times seems to be erratic.
There is a beautiful romanticism in Frank Ocean's lyrics with that realistic dash of bittersweetness that I have come to value. The words in "Thinking Bout You" present us with continual juxtapositions symbolizing the hot and cold qualities masking confusion that is at the epicenter of the perception of the lyricist. This song particularly plays out the erraticism of his metaphoric storytelling, as a personification of fear attempting to override love.
When he sings: "a new feel" it is relatable to meeting someone that may not be within your normative comprehension and they take you out of your comfort zone, ultimately for growth should you choose to accept the challenge. We often get used to our patterns in life and get stuck in the monotony of them, so when something new comes along that triggers the hell out of us, we can often perceive it as threatening. The ego comes into play to steamroll our hearts and yells "DANGER!" Really loudly. Like obnoxiously so. This is what evokes fear and we can sabotage as a form of protection.
As I have come to see it, these experiences are meant to highlight all that isn't working for us and in many cases, forces us to look within the darker parts of ourselves. No external vices will suffice, so when a person comes in and alters your typical thought process and makes your heart beat wildly, essentially threatening your entire existence, yeah that's scary.
That soul-level connectivity with another hits you differently and sometimes we misinterpret these bonds depending on when they appear and let other things get in the way of their purpose. The slightly lovelorn ending to the song hints at the feeling of it being too late to retrieve said bond and it plagues your mind with the plethora of haunting memories. It's like the musical imagining of someone in a perpetual state of resistance to their truth. But the sometimes frustrating irony is that those connections are the ones that endure through your lifetime regardless of the state of them in your reality.
If you do take the chance on this growth, the beauty on the other side is basically akin to Frank Ocean's subsequent songs on Channel ORANGE. Let us not forget that Andre 3000 is hiding a verse on "Pink Matter" at the tail-end of the album!