We usually try to separate an artist’s personal life with their music career unless its a scandal, an incredible power couple or them acting out of character. It isn’t really our business whether Frank likes boys or girls so then why is it such a big deal?
Well, the genre of music is a good place to start. Frank Ocean sings songs with an old-skool 90’s hip-hop feel inspired by men seen in music videos using sensual lyrics to seduce a woman and talking about a woman’s beauty. In his single Novacane, Frank sings: ‘I blame it on a model broad with a hollywood smile/Oww stripper booty and a rack like wow’.
These lyrics ‘fit the mould’. So when news recently emerged that Frank uses ‘him’ instead of ‘her’ on tracks such as ‘Bad Religion’ and ‘Pink Matter’ in his new debut album ‘Channel Orange’, set to be released July 17, it has become a huge deal. Not because people are disgusted or ashamed but surprised. Frank Ocean is not only a key musician in music’s most heteronormative genres but in music as a whole. Giving a reason for his new album name, he says, ‘Orange reminds me of the summer I first fell in love. Awww…’
Not only is Frank Ocean an artist, he is also a black man. Studies have shown that black men who are gay or bi-sexual say they often find themselves the targets of constant harassment, discrimination and negative attitudes. The black community are not very accepting of homosexuality whether its through society, church or communities.
‘I don’t know anything, & neither do you’- Frank Ocean. These are the words that sit on Frank Ocean’s Twitter profile which then prompted a massive unveiling as Frank took to his tumblr page to address the flying rumours with an emotional letter which was meant to be released as the credit lining of his album cover.
The letter was typed using notebook, dated December 27 2011 as Frank Ocean eloquently describes the time he fell in love with somebody of the same sex. He says:
“4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer and the summer after that together. By the time I realised 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.’
The love of his life pats Frank on the back and rushes back to his girlfriend leaving Frank feeling vulnerable and exposed. Anybody who has been in love with somebody who they feel they shouldn’t whilst being given the constant reassurances that everything will be fine whilst the other partner gets all the love you long for will instantly relate. The fact that they are both men in this case doesn’t seem important. But the letter unleashes a subject that often comes and goes within the world of hip-hop: homophobia.
Frank ocean was born Christopher Francis Ocean and is from New Orleans, Louisiana. He started his career as a ghost-writer for artists such as Justin Beiber, John Legend and Beyonce but in mid 2010, became a member of OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All). In February 2011, Frank decided it was time to release his own material and released his mixtape ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ to critical acclaim. He released two singles ‘Swim Good’ and ‘Novacane’ and both singles achieved chart success.
Fellow Odd Future member Tyler the Creator might have to reconsider using homophobic lyrics in the future as he congratulates his friend for being honest. Tyler the Creator’s last album Goblin uses the word ‘faggot’ and other anti-gay lyrics a total of 213 times. In 2011, Tyler addressed the homophobic accusations: “I’m not homophobic. I just think ‘faggot’ hits and hurts people. It hits. And ‘gay’ just means you’re stupid. I don’t know, we don’t think about it, we’re just kids. We don’t think about that shit. But I don’t hate gay people. I don’t want anyone to think I’m homophobic,” Asked by MTV News whether he is worried about what his gay fans may think, he adds: “Well, I have gay fans and they don’t really take it offensive, so I don’t know. If it offends you, it offends you. If you call me a ‘nigga’, I really don’t care, but that’s just me, personally. Some people might take it the other way; I personally don’t give a shit.”
Frank Ocean has been trending on Twitter about ‘coming out’ and ‘being gay’. Infact, the letter doesn’t say anything along the lines of ‘Hey I have something to tell you.. I’m Gay.’ The tweets reflect society’s lack of sensitivity towards human sexuality as Frank only said his first love was a man and describes how strong the love was. Stronger than any relationship he has been in with a woman.
Let’s hope that Frank Ocean continues to live, laugh and love whilst continuing to bless us with his amazing voice and beautiful music. At last he is a ‘free man’.
Follow Frank Ocean on Twitter @Frank_Ocean