MIDCOAST MUSIC, NOVEMBER 2012
Frank Ocean has had quite a year. Since dropping his debut mixtapeNostalgia/Ultra in March of this year he has seen his stock skyrocket to the tune of over 150,000 downloads on Datpiff.com, features on Tyler, The Creator’s debut album Goblin, culminating maybe most notably with two features on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s major release Watch The Throne which were met with glowing reviews.
The appeal of the Odd Future crew member is his ability to be a breath of fresh air for a stagnant R&B still being desperately clung to by the likes of Chris Brown and Usher. That the likes of Kanye and Jay-z turned to him for the ballads on their much anticipated collaboration, not to mention the lead song. As is pretty recent memory, Watch The Throne went on to earn an 8.5 rating from Pitchfork and break iTunes sales records, vaulting Mr. Ocean to the stratosphere. Unfortunately, he is hardly scratching the clouds with his latest release, DreamKilla.
Frank Ocean – Acura Integurl
What set Frank Ocean apart on Nostalgia/Ultra was his originality and indie sounds that lent itself as a stark contrast to the slick dance moves, shimmering jackets and domestic disputes of the most previous R&B kings. For much of DreamKilla we see him falling into a more typical sound, the beats accompanying his voice seeming somehow less thoughtful than his earlier release. To put it a bit more simply, much of the mixtape felt tacky compared to what I have come to expect from Frank.
Now let me flip again here and say that I did like some of the mixtape, also understanding that it was not an official release by the young crooner, instead a collection of new songs he has been working on lately. “Denim” is a solid track with the echoes of the Frank Ocean I knew, spinning together a tale while simply talking about his jeans. The beat comes in on a heavy bass throbbing the listener into the song before giving way to Ocean’s soulful vocals. “She” Ocean’s feature from Goblin pairs him with OFWGTA mate Tyler, The Creator and puts him right back at his roots with his old crew handling the beats. What is also very noticeable throughout the sixteen tracks offered up is his increasing vocal range which were put on display in two releases that preceded DreamKilla, “Acura Integurl” and “Thinking About You”. It is refreshing to see that even as he gains prominence Ocean is still perfecting his craft.
All in all DreamKilla feels like a bit of a step back for a sure-fire up and coming star, albeit a miniscule one. Big things are on the horizon for an artist who was an unknown at Def Jam last year. For now he continues to work on his “debut” album and producing videos like the one below for the song “Swim Good” off Nostalgia/Ultra. Top 5 Tracks Below
DreamKilla Top 5 Tracks:
- Lost Angelhttp://s0.wp.com/wp-content/plugins/audio-player/player.swf?m=1307735173g
- Know Betterhttp://s0.wp.com/wp-content/plugins/audio-player/player.swf?m=1307735173g
- The Cityhttp://s0.wp.com/wp-content/plugins/audio-player/player.swf?m=1307735173g