Sunday, September 16, 2012

Brother In The Land of Hip-Hop

And Song of the Week bounds in a sixth season with the sweet, plaintive 'Thinking About You' by hip-hop/soul wunderkind Frank Ocean, who is making waves (pun intended) with minimal radio play, widespread critical acclaim, and word of mouth.  I'm also determined to keep this weekly rather than every 2 or 3 or 4 weeks - this year got very busy, but priorities are priorities!

Like D'Angelo and Maxwell in the mid-1990s, Frank Ocean plies an artful, smart blend of soulful make-out music and hip-hop attitude, three parts Luther Vandross and one part Jay-Z, if you will.  What's new in this mix is that Frank recently announced that his first, most intense love was...  a man!  This is a seismic event, for hip hop, but its swift acceptance in the milieu is also a weathervane of changing attitudes even in the most macho corners of today's world (like the many NFL stars who've supported gay marriage this year...)  

Born Christopher Francis 'Lonny' Breaux in Long Beach, California and raised in New Orleans, Frank Ocean burst on the scene as a ghost writer for the likes of Brandy, John Legend, and even Justin Bieber.  Playing with alternative hip-hop collectives, he released a mixtape two years ago that became a critical sensation and led to a series of singles, 'Novacaine,' 'Swim Good', and the cut that caught my attention, 'Songs About Women,' from a 2011 best-of critic's list.   His stunning debut album, 'Channel Orange,' dropped two months ago and is certainly among the year's very best albums..

Here's the video for 'Thinking About You.; Enjoy!
A few earlier singles: 'Novacaine': 'Swim Good':

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