Burning Up: Frank Ocean

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    Frank Ocean TheLavaLizard
    Frank Ocean

    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:

    1. Start
    2. Thinkin’ Bout You
    3. Fertilizer
    4. Sierra Leone
    5. Sweet Life
    6. Not Just Money
    7. Super Rich Kids (Ft. Earl Sweatshirt)
    8. Pilot Jones
    9. Crack Rock
    10. Pyramids
    11. Lost
    12. White (Ft. John Mayer)
    13. Monks
    14. Bad Religion
    15. Pink Matter (Ft. Andre 3000)
    16. Forrest Gump
    17. End

    Frank Ocean Channel Orange TheLavaLizard
    Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange' album cover.

    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.

    -Frank

    Thoughts?

    • Socivol

      Why did your perception of him change because he came out? That’s the same as someone disliking him now because he came out. The music is the same, if you felt that he was trendy and pretentious before I don’t understand how him coming out changes the quality of his musical output.

    • pisces2g

      Didn’t u already do Frank ocean? Did u do him again due to his new found honesty

    • KingAquarius

      I think you are full of it. Your opinion of him as an artist, musician, singer changed because he “came out”? That makes no sense. How does the revelation of his sexuality change the quality and content of the music. Even if you look at him with a renewed sense of respect, the auto-tuned Drake, Weekend, The-Dream sound is still there.

    • Socivol

      ^^ cosign! I love Frank Ocean but these new bandwagons fans can take a seat somewhere.

    • Kevin

      I learned some big words from this post lol!

    • Topman

      Trent, this article is so full of contradictions. It would’ve been wiser to give this one a miss rather than give vague negative feedback on an artist you clearly care little for, merely out of some sense of obligation given his sexuality

    • Liberiangirl

      Why so much hate for Trent on this post? This isn’t the only site that has made a post about Frank Ocean coming out. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinions so let Trent have his opinion. Whether you agreed or disagreed with his post it’s his opinion to state just like it is yours to comment. After reading this post, I gathered that he is amazed by the courage Frank has to come out.

      “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.”

      Frank’s “coming out” has added depth to his artistry and in so many words (not said but from my prospective) Trent has respect for Frank for being public when it’s so easy to stay quite, especially in the Hip Hop/R&B community. This is just my opinion after reading this post.

    • pisces2g

      i agree with Trent

    • Girrrl

      I agree with the majority about this article. I don’t have a problem with Frank and his sexuality but I’m not a fan of his singing. It’s mediocre at best. Frank is best behind the scenes writing songs instead of singing like the Dream.

    • this_isPJ

      I guess it took him to have a sexual revelation for you to take his side. Hes amazing musically and for someone who brought us great Burning up posts before this one should have been one of the first ones you have done.

    • kkk

      WOW he is brave!

    • mango

      Frank Ocean’s music is far from boring, in my opinion. His artistry is beyond evidenced in his work with Beyonce ALONE much less everyone else. I can’t wait to hear Channel Orange, and I wish you’d covered his lovely music properly long before this “revelation”

    • Darron

      I still Fucks with this dude tho

    • DRB

      Glad you’re accepting but if you’re not into his music, you shouldn’t have posted it. Aside from that, I don’t understand how you’re not a fan of him. Vocally he’s a little lackluster but his music is the shit. I don’t even understand the LDR comparison

    • lonnie

      To the dumbasses who say he cant sing..go watch his performance of i miss you on youtube..#talent

    • TwistIt

      Trent. You, sir, are full of shit. So you suddenly like him and want to do posts on him because he has come out as bi? He still the same “trendy singer.” You male no sense, have several seats please.

    • FAB IT

      TRENT u are just hypocrite here why paying attention to him just becoz he s Coming out of the closet put your act together SMH

    • FO

      agree with the majority of the people who commented..

    • Charia Rose

      ok you all need to chill. What he means as his opinion of his music has changed a bit since he came out means that alot of his lyrics may seem to have a bit more depth to them since he was in the closet. Why are y’all attacking Trent? I mean sheesh chillax. People change perceptions all the time. You think people’s perceptions of Female artist stay the same after they become mothers? No. So chill.

    • FOLLOW ME @gdboyratedloud

      whether you like it or not, Trent is right. The drama makes him and his music more interesting. Thats just the way it is. His music has gotten more interesting because you want to listen for clues and hints lol. Say what you want.

    • Ms. Boss

      I don’t see a problem with this article. I thought Frank Ocean was BORING before he came out but now that I listen to his music with his bisexuality in mind it seems so much more interesting and even homoerotic!

      Some of you people always look for reasons to attack TRENT instead of focusing on what he WROTE. What’s funny is that everybody complaining here are Beyonce and Whitney stans! Let me find out you people are using this opportunity to seek revenge. PREDICTABLE.

    • DOMOdotSCORE

      I think that you guys should re read what Trent said. Trent never said that Frank Ocean wasn’t a good singer and excellent songwriter, he said that Frank’s material wasn’t of his interest. Trent respects Frank’s talent but not the particular songs that Frank put out. I think that we all can relate to that point of respecting someone’s talent but not digging their material, seeing as that is what we do when we post comments on this site. Now that Frank has come out of the closet as a bisexual man, Trent’s perspective on the part of Frank’s artistry (his lyricism) that he dug now means so much more.

      Trent never claimed that he was the biggest fan of Frank Ocean before, during or after this article. He was just pointing out that he now has a new perspective on Frank’s lyrics. The main purpose of this article isn’t only about Frank personally, it’s questioning whether the homophobic atmosphere of the hip hop world is changing or is Frank going to be the only one that the Hip Hop community accepts.

      Trent, I think that this article probably would have been better received as a boiling point or something else instead of a burning up. But I get what you’re saying, though.

    • Bitch bye

      I agree with what Trent was saying. Some of you clearly didn’t read it.

    • Kingphoenix

      Trent I LOVe you for this!

    • theman4u

      I LOVE this site!

    • olivia

      what does his sexuaity or personal life have to do with him being an artist i could care less what some ones sexual preference is if i can’t get into their art

    • KC

      His sexuality has nothing to do with his musical gifts. He’d be a great artist even if he enjoyed f***ing billy goats.

    • larry

      Burning up!? really!? Frank has been doing it big since 2011! only now hes releasing an album but has at least 3 big mixtapes out! Cmon nwo

    • larry

      i like Frank alot but i didnt like this post, about his life not music which youve prided yourself in doing! I know you know music VERY well Trent and im sure you know that Frank is an amazing all round artist;vocals, writing, production everything! Surprising that you didnt really rate him highly as a budding star.

    • Adam

      That letter!! Tears…
      I def know how that feels. He’s awesome!

    • theman4u

      I have no life and spend all my day attacking people on this site because I can’t get a man.

    • Matthew Charlery-Smith

      As usual people overreact and become disrespectful. Why can’t people share their thoughts positively? Coming for a man you don’t know and making personal attacks. Aren’t you adults? Trent explained that “Burning Up” is how he INTRODUCES artists to the site so it’s understandable why Frank Ocean’s on one. I thought just a post on his letter would have been enough but looking at it properly a sudden post about someone’s private life with no back story/write-up on their artistry before would have seemed very pretentious, so congrats for handling it well, Trent.

      In regards to Frank’s artistry I feel similar to Trent, a bit bored. There’s no doubt he can sing well (not a Luther or B. McKnight), write well and is a visionary but I find it all hard to swallow. I don’t GET it.

      Some people say, “You don’t need to get it, that’s the genius of it all.” but I disagree. True genius to me is something which is difficult to DO (for the creator) but easy to understand for the receiver. Consider the miracle of modern technology. Although microwaves, vacuum cleaners and mobile phones etc are difficult to build everyone “gets” them and they are well-received, not niche. I believe this is even the difference between Michael Jackson and Prince. MJ’s music was brilliant and straightforward in its aim (90%+ of the time), Prince’s was more experimental and soon appealed to those who either loved his experimentation (like Sign O’ the Times) or loved his live shows and instrument playing capabilities (26 instrumenats and counting).

      I think now with the Gaga’s, Niki’s, Odd Future collective etc everyone’s able to create a unique brand that will attract/inspire followers but there’s that risk of alienating everyone else because their few fans/stand tell them everything they do is “legendary/amazing”. When I see Ocean’s album cover I’m like “What…?”. His name is Ocean and his fav colour is orange, how hard was it to just have a beautiful pic of an orange sunset over the ocean? Or a pic of an orange analogue TV screen with him somewhere in the shot? And people came for Chris Brown’s diamond-style Fortune deluxe cover? At least you knew what HIS was about!

      As for Pyramids you can’t dance nor really sing along to it. It’s not a ballad neither a true mid tempo…it’s adding to my confusion!!! *Goes to play MJ’s “Invincible” to hear real electro-styled RnB/soul music*

    • Matthew Charlery-Smith

      In case anyone’s confused by the TV analogue suggestion it’s because it would drive home the meaning behind the word “Channel” in his album title. I guess the album title suggests he’s giving us an insight into his view, his world, his “station”. Could have been better executed though!

    • Ugh

      wasn’t interested in him then and still not interested. *shrug*

    • AM!R

      Why do you say this is going to be his debut album….his first album came out over a year ago? Check the facts because you saying he’s a male version of Lana Del Rey is a complete fallacious statement considering he was around WAY before that chick.

    • FOLLOW ME @gdboyratedloud

      that was a mixtape. Trent’s not dub you nitwit

    • Bee

      I think what Trent is getting at is that because Frank Ocean revealed that he is bisexual, we may now be able to see a male R&B artist from this generation that does not feel that he has to be overly sexual/masculine due to homophobiaphobia thus, breaking a trend that we often see among male artists in the music industry who seem to be obsessed with proving their strong masculinity (which often hinders their artistry). Trent referred to this in a previous post. To quote: “This fear of homophobia among men is termed as homophobiaphobia and it breeds overt expressions of masculinity that relate to the fragile male ego. Simply, men, particularly those of social minority groups, defend themselves from homophobia via hypermasculinity.”
      By revealing that he is bisexual, Frank disallows himself from being restricted to the gender norms and expectations that confine many male artists in R&B music (i.e. Trey Songz) and that often limit the scope of an artist’s material and “cheapens” it. This may allow for a truer expression of Frank’s artistry since he, unlike most male R&B/ Hip Hop artists, won’t feel the need to protect this idealistic male identity/ persona. In this way, Frank can be more expressive and embrace more of his artistry, not being restricted by hypermasculinity due to homophobiaphobia. So yes, his sexuality affects his music and artistry but does not define who is as an artist.

      A lot of people commenting here seem to be very short-sighted and are just looking on the surface.

    • AM!R

      Was that English @gdboyratedloud? Whether ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ is a mixtape or album is a moot point. I was simply saying that he was around WAY before Lana Del Rey…btw, I agree with Bee wholeheartedly

    • King

      You all completely missed Trent’s point. I think Trent needs to explain this on Trini Trent TV!

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    • My Way

      I simply don’t like Frank Ocean but this song is very good! I do think Frank will be elevated to “GOD LIKE” status by the media now that he has admitted to being bi-sexual. It’s sad that someone’s sexuality is an issue at all. Look for him to replace Usher, Chris Brown, Ne-yo and Trey Songz per the media real soon! WATCH FOR IT PEOPLE!!!!

    • This is the music business. Usher, Chris Brown, and Ne-yo; pay for Frank Ocean to record. Let them sing over edm tracks, if it makes an impact; hurrah. Let him live, and hopefully he can move his art-form; somewhere new and viable.

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