What Frank Ocean’s Return to Music Really Means

Courtesy of hiphopdx.com
Courtesy of hiphopdx.com

She was from Paris, and I wasn’t. I wasn’t going to say that I wasn’t from Paris, but I certainly was not from anywhere worth talking about. She had been through so much: wild one-night stands, hitchhiking across the coast; finding love in strange places, getting high with low expectations. Hands and head always out of the window, wind in hair. Leaving to the next town, there wasn’t that much there. I just left to the big city, with just a mindset of finding a new life. We didn’t have much in common, except one thing; she loved Frank Ocean, as did I.

2011 feels like a long time ago. Since then, Frank Ocean has become known to most as a Billboard chart-topper, household name, idol, and role model, not to mention a Grammy award-winner. It was recently reported that Frank came out with a new song called, “Memrise,” a little snippet off of what could seem like a sophomore album. “At least a project,” I thought to myself. “That’s all I need to start this New Year off right; with something Frank, please.” But in the midst of all my selfishness, I began to think not only what his return meant to me, but what it meant to the fans, and the world.

Music has been poor as of late, this year in hip-hop, as the pop charts show. Where were the awesome albums rendered to us by the likes of A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweat, and company a year and a half to two years ago? We needed to get back to the season of familiar, new faces, but with seasoned music. What Frank brought us, with the Lonny Breaux Collection and Nostalgia, Ultrawas something we could possibly wait a decade to see again. Artists these days are making Billboard Number Ones with singles of no thought, lyrics are being devalued now more than ever, and “One Hit Wonder” artists are coming out of the realm of the Internet now more than ever. Songs that made you think, bob your head, and sing at literally any time of the day, are finally back. We love it.

We need music to make us love again. Frank was the ultimate romantic; so much so that he made music for the deep, rooted questions that every relationship needs. He gave us songs like “Forrest Gump,” which detailed the physical aspects of a significant other, male or female. Even songs like “Rocket Love,” “If I’m In Love,” and “Songs for Women” detailed different scenarios of the opposite encounter, showing how different ways of life lead you to and through women.

We need music to make us feel like we’re not outsiders. As a matter of a fact, Frank Ocean’s music makes us really think; about the way we are, and that troubled people can still function. That heartbroken people can love again, and that love could never be out of the reach of someone, because of who they are. “I believe a woman’s temple / gives her the right to choose / but baby don’t abort / I believe that marriage isn’t between a man & woman / but between love and love.” These are beautiful lyrics, expertly thought out, or maybe just experienced? We still wonder.

He eases the troubled. With questions about where we came from, who we should love, and who killed who, Frank Ocean is definitely for you. A young man, who got money too fast, with the world coming one hundred miles per hour, dodging many unimportant women, only to be with one at the end. Such beautiful lyrics can come out of someone who experienced so much hurt as a child, with Breaux growing up without a father since the age of 5. Ocean lets you into his world with his somber remake of Mr. Hudson’s “There Will Be Tears,” explaining the melancholy left down to his by his father, who ran out of Ocean’s life at just 5 years of age. “See I met him later on / think it was 1991, the only dad I’d ever know / but pretty soon he’d be gone too / hide my face hide my face / can’t let em’ see me crying / cause these boys didn’t have no fathers neither / and they weren’t crying / my friend said it wasn’t so bad / you can’t miss what you ain’t had well I can / I’m sad and there will be tears / I’ve no doubt, there may be smiles but a few / and when those tears have run out you will be numb.”

He had the voice of an angel, the production of a scientist, and a message, pleasing to the new generation and old. Such awesome projects back to back EP’s. Almost inhuman if you ask me. Music to lead you back to living your life. Music to make you feel cooler than you think you are, the ultimate smooth. Haven’t you ever dreamed of kicking game at a beautiful women saying, “we could go to my house after school / after school after school / cause my dad don’t clock off till late / off till late off till late / we could kick it in the living room / looking through my whole vinyl collection / and you could teach me how to slow dance or something / and I can give you chills harmonizing to Otis, Isley, Marvin?”

I think the reason that the girl from Paris and I connected with Frank as much as we did, was that even though I wasn’t hitchhiking across the coast, trying drugs never talked about in the common circles, or living life on the edge, we still were on the same journey. We both had troubles, we truly never loved, and we were still trying to figure everything out. All we knew was that the music was perfect, being rendered by an imperfect person, just like us.