Frank Ocean’s album Nostalgia, ULTRA has had the most plays of all the Odd Future albums I’ve listened and still hasn’t left rotation since it dropped online. Dude has well-written lyrics on a variety of topics that he sings in a voice smooth as hell. Take, for instance, the way he structured this particular verse of “We All Try”:
I still believe in man
A wise one asked me why
Cause I just don’t believe we’re wicked
I know that we sin but I do believe we try
Referring back to the word “man” in the prior sentence by saying “a wise one” in stead of simply “a wise man” is a sign of smart craftsmanship. It underscores the diversity of man by first using the word to describe the general concept and then changing it’s meaning to a specific man in the next line. It also builds on the motivation for this belief, amongst those that’ll make you loose faith there apparently still remain wise men too. By choosing one word in favour of it’s more straightforward alternative he creates a poetic loop that underscores the meaning of both sentences. Like I said, craftsmanship. It’s a sign of his talent that he makes it seem so easy.
His musical influences seem to range from modern indie-pop to 70s soul with everything in between and then some. What also sticks out to me is that he can sing about sex without falling into the classic R&B pitfall of what I’ll name ‘the come-on song’. It doesn’t feel forced or crass, but natural like it should be. He isn’t afraid to apply some humor to his songwriting, he’s able do the storytelling shtick that R. Kelly once revelled in but lets it shine through that he’s having fun while simultaneously keeping it from turning into a ‘nudge-nudge-wink-wink’ affair. His humour seems honest, like all of his songwriting, devoid of either tough guy posturing or undefeatable casanova slickness. Balance is key, and this dude has it like a tightrope-artist on a tricycle.
Oh, the video? It’s pretty sexy but not in a video-vixen sort of way.
DOWNLOAD: Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, ULTRA
Previously on TRU: The Lonny Breaux Collection (64 Unreleased Frank Ocean Songs)