Let me be perfectly honest, this is the kind of music I love to hate. Updated forms of R&B, otherwise known as anything put out by Nelly since ‘Hot In Herre’ or anything put released since Jagged Edge and TLC ruled the airwaves seriously hurt my ears. D has a really good friend who comes over to our place every week or so with a USB loaded up with the worst of the worst of this shit, Akon featuring Lil Someone remixed by Swizz Beats or whatever – get the fuck out of my house. Frank Ocean is an interesting experiment, then. Not only does he craft soulful baby-making music that doesn’t starve to death every time it catches a glimpse of its own reflection, but he’s also a member of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (see: the entire internet), despite sounding absolutely nothing like the rest of them. His Def Jam-shelved and subsequently self-released Nostalgia, Ultra has been doing serious rounds on my speakers and I’m not really ashamed of it. This guy is my age and probably one of the most intelligent dudes I’ve heard come out of or turn his back on a scene full of millionaire-makers in years. ‘Songs for Women’ is the ultimate backhander, a beat-heavy slow jam that escapes the saccharine trap by referring to the nature of what it is all throughout the chorus. None of that ‘I need you g-iiiirl’ / ‘It was only just a dream’ / ‘Just you and me baby’-type pandering here. Welcome to the best Top 40 chorus that will never hit the Top 40:
“And every time somebody asked me/ If I sing songs to get at women
I say yeah, they say/ No fair no fair that’s cheating
I say shit, oh well, oh well
And every time a nigga asks me/If I sing songs to get at women
I say yea, they say/No fair, no, no fair, that’s cheating
I say boy don’t judge cause hell/If you were me
You’d be singing to her/ Like la da da da da
La da da da da/ La da da da da”
That’s the blueprint right there. Everyone else should just pack their shit up and go home. This guy is is well on the way to being very rich very young, having already written tunes for Bieber, Brandy, and apparently even John Legend. He’s already got everything figured out. And how good is his voice? Only slightly effected (in the verse anyway), no show-offiness about it, just down and out baritone crooning. And that beat is nasty enough to flip into a rap tune without the slightest of hesitation. It’s very very good, y’all.
Odd Future are coming to Australia in whatever incarnation they deign appropriate in about a month, right after head honcho Tyler, The Creator drops Goblin at which point the hysteria will start all over again. But just like Left Brain, the female beat-maker you never hear about, Ocean is a real asset and hopefully he’ll stay out of lock-up long enough to come down and snub Jessica Mauboy or something. Here is a song that existed before the concept for the video clip and the marketing strategy did. It sneaks under your skin and stays there for a long time, and may actually be heralding in a changing of the guard in a field that’s as musty and stale as the colour of Queen Elizabeth’s outfit at the Royal Wedding last night.
Frank Ocean – ‘Songs For Women’