This is a very unusual edition of Burning Up. During the last few months, there has been an artist who the readers of The Lava Lizard has been demanding me to cover but I was quite reluctant because I considered him to be just another trendy singer. However, that perspective changed today when Frank Ocean came out the closet.
Known for his incredible writing talent, Ocean has been the voice of the Tumblr generation, despite being striking similar to other emotional auto-tuned vocalists, such as Drake, The Weeknd and The-Dream. What really sets him apart from the pack is his daring confession of bisexuality.
Ocean will release his ‘Channel Orange’ debut album on July 17th. The record features appearances by John Mayer, Andre 3000 and Earl Sweatshirt. Preceding the song is the single ‘Pyramids’. Listen to the song below:
Ocean is a good singer and a excellent writer but I was honestly bored by his material thus far and referred to him as male version of Lana Del Rey. Yet, his confession of his sexuality has added a very intriguing element to his artistry and his appeal as a popular culture figure.
In today’s R&B and Hip-Hop industry, there are many gay and bisexual men but they never admit their status publicly because we still live in a patriarchal, heterosexist western society. Male artists are forced to conform to heteronormative standards as ‘ideal’ men and homosexuality is considered as the extreme deviation from those norms.
Surprisingly, Ocean has thus far been openly embraced by the Hip-Hop community since admitting that he is a bisexual. Whether it’s because he isn’t a rapper, a major artist or just because he is a well connected as a writer, Ocean has been accepted.
Let’s see if this is the beginning of a new era of music or just a single case of acceptance because Ocean because he has many friends in high places. Hopefully, for the sake of the other artists eager to admit their truths, it is the former.
See Ocean ‘Channel Orange’ track list and album cover below:
2. Thinkin’ Bout You
4. Sierra Leone
5. Sweet Life
6. Not Just Money
7. Super Rich Kids (Ft. Earl Sweatshirt)
8. Pilot Jones
9. Crack Rock
12. White (Ft. John Mayer)
14. Bad Religion
15. Pink Matter (Ft. Andre 3000)
16. Forrest Gump
Read Ocean’s letter about his bisexuality below:
Whoever you are, wherever you are, I’m beginning to think we’re a lot alike. Human beings spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to. My loved ones are everything to me here. In the last year or 3 I’ve screamed at my creator. Screamed at clouds in the sky. For some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna somehow. 4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence … until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life. Back then, my mind would wander to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with. I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager … the ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak. I realized too much, too quickly. Imagine being thrown from a plane. I wasn’t in a plane though. I was in a Nissan Maxima, the same car I packed up with bags and drove to Los Angeles in. I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs.
He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn’t on a cliff, I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn’t imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn’t always successful.
The dance went on … I kept the rhythm for several summers after. It’s winter now. I’m typing this on a plane back to Los Angeles from New Orleans. I flew home for another marred Christmas. I have a windowseat. It’s December 27, 2011. By now I’ve written two albums, this being the second. I wrote to keep myself busy and sane. I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions. I’m surprised at how far all of it has taken me. Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive, kept me save … sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are … great humans, probably angels. I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore. There’s probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean. I was never alone, as much as I felt like it … as much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don’t think I ever could be. Thanks. To my first love. I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was.
Some things never are … and we were. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you. I’ll remember who you were and how we’ve both changed and stayed the same. I’ve never had more respect for life and living than I have right now. Maybe it takes a near death experience to feel alive. Thanks. To my mother, you raised me strong. I know I’m only braved because you were first … so thank you. All of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man. If I listen closely … I can hear the sky falling too.