Within the first 5 mins of listening to Channel ORANGE, Frank Ocean brings us along a contemporary voyage that begins with the nostalgic jingle of a PlayStation booting up and is concluded by tantalizing falsettos over the sexy, platinum selling ‘𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘠𝘰𝘶’. This would only be a glimpse of the range of Frank’s abilities, lacing deeply sentimental love ballads with relatable youthful references.
In the late 00’s Frank earned a rep as a talented songwriter, landing credits with Justin Bieber & Beyoncé b/w 08-10’. The latter of which would lead to Ocean’s legendary contribution on Jay Z & Kanye’s ‘𝘕𝘰 𝘊𝘩𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘞𝘪𝘭𝘥’, both of whom curiously admired him. Then in 2011, he formally debuted on the R&B scene by releasing his mixtape ‘𝘯𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘨𝘪𝘢, 𝘜𝘓𝘛𝘙𝘈’ via Tumblr for free.
Riding the success of the tape, Ocean began to construct ‘𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘭 𝘖𝘙𝘈𝘕𝘎𝘌’. The album was written & produced by Frank with friend/producer Malay. (Though in typical Frank fashion, the exec. producer credit on the album is to his dog Everest). Bending traditional R&B with electro-funk/pop soul, Ocean enlisted the likes of John Mayer on the 10-min centrepiece “𝘗𝘺𝘳𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘥𝘴” and André 3000 on “𝘗𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘔𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳” to ornament the album. Following the preview, media outlets raised questions regarding Ocean’s sexuality due to mixed lyrics. This prompted him to release a letter on his Tumblr 6 days before the album dropped, detailing his experience with loving a man at a young age.
The record’s name/artwork alludes to Frank’s experience with Synesthesia, a rare auditorial sensation that allows him to see sounds. The album was released on July 10th 2012, a week before it’s real release date in a strategy coined by Watch the Throne. It was welcomed with exquisite critical acclaim, debuting at #2, scoring a 9.5 on Pitchfork & earning him a Grammy.