Review Roundup: Frank Ocean – ‘channel ORANGE’

Channel Orange

Frank Ocean caused a commotion with his coming out letter, but it’s his major label debut channel ORANGE that has everyone talking this week. Upon its surprise release on Monday night, the album shot to No. 1 on iTunes, where it currently remains. On the heels of last year’s acclaimed project Nostalgia, Ultra, the Odd Future singer-songwriter assembles 17 more sublime tracks, with features from André 3000, Earl Sweatshirt, and John Mayer. Was Ocean able to win over his critics once again? The reviews are in.

Entertainment Weekly: If Southern California needs an avant-R&B soundtrack, let this be it: Ocean’s hypnotic major-label debut plays like an indie movie, with songs about sun-faded palm trees, cokeheads in Polo sweats, and strippers in Cleopatra makeup. B+

Los Angeles Times: The result is a quiet, if tempestuous, storm, filled with muffled beats, whispers, perfectly placed arrangements, enough space within songs that each note is clear and present, and an overarching theme that confirms that its creator has an artistic vision that reaches beyond the gender of his desire.

Time Out New York: Aside from two extraordinary lovelorn ballads, “Thinkin Bout You” and “Bad Religion,” the album is surprisingly skimpy on the soul-baring intimacy that made Nostalgia, Ultra so magical. We’ll have to wait until next time to see if this shy antistar will let us get a good, long look at him; for now, Channel Orange feels evasive—a sprawling head-scratcher of a stopgap. 3/5

The Washington Post: But with Channel Orange, it’s Ocean’s poise as a lyricist, vocalist, and producer that feels so arresting. Re­imagining the melodic sensibilities of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and the evaporated song structures of D’Angelo, Maxwell, and Erykah Badu, he’s forging his own brand of neo-neo-soul.

TIME: But by coming out, Ocean also gives Channel Orange a context in which his heart-wrenching lyrics and despondent songs draw attention to his struggle with identity, sexuality and encroaching fame. The lyrics elevate the album from being just another above-average R&B record to a brilliant release sure to top many “Best of” lists.

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Thinkin Bout You,” “Sweet Life,” “Super Rich Kids,” “Pyramids”

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46 Comments

  1. h8ermagnet

    werq

    [Reply]

    Realist : Navy-Nazi Reply:

    @h8ermagnet, idk this album is not happening for me..i try listening to it like 5 times straight and i just..um…hmm. anywho great reviews not surprising to say the least…back to listening CO cause i don’t wanna be left behind when the shit hits the fans.

    [Reply]

    NICKIFAN101 Reply:

    @h8ermagnet, The album was overated tbh… I only liked “thinking bout you” , 1st half of “Pyramids” and “bad religeon”

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    Beyoncé:I Am Your Leader Reply:

    @NICKIFAN101, A Nicki fan saying an ablum is overrated. Oh the fucking irony.

    [Reply]

    Dro Reply:

    @Beyoncé:I Am Your Leader, Hold up B’Day/Sasha Fierce. Books shouldn’t try to read.

    [Reply]

    Béyslayer Reply:

    @Dro, And unknown reachers shouldn’t reach. Beyoncé»your fav

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  2. @RVYLE

    4/5 _ A! My Favorite Songs Are Lost/Fertilizer/Forrest Gump _ Pink Matter. I he hope get’s some grammy’s for this.

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    Say word Reply:

    @@RVYLE,
    1. Forrest Gump
    2. Fertilizer
    3. Sweet life
    4. Pilot jones
    5. Thinkin bout you
    6. Pyramids
    7. Pink matter
    8. Monks
    9. Crack rock
    10. Bad religion

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  3. Jordan Gabriel

    It’s all about Pink Matter, White, the second half of Pyramids, Thinking Bout You. Love Love Love this album. It makes me want to invest myself in listening to it. It’s like I’m drawn onto it like I’m getting something out of it that’ll benefit me. weird.

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  4. WAT U NEED @ HEAR

    LOST IS THAT SHIT, AND MONKS, Pink Matters good but I dont get, and Forrest Gump is SICK and its just a story, its not about Frank.

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  5. Fox-O

    Ive been listening to this album for 24 hours now. I love love love it. I think its a very cohesive ablum; beginning to end! Fav tracks Sierra Leone/ Pink Matter/ Forrest Gump/ Pilot Jones/ Thinkin Bout You. His beat selection is amazing. He def. kept the good stuff for himself.

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  6. greg

    This album has shaken me to my core and caused an ethereal shift in my outlook on life. For the first time in my life I feel alive with a real sense of conviction. Channel Orange is a spiritual feast for the soul.

    [Reply]

    @RockChilld Reply:

    Yes, and that’s something the mainstream media overlooks. I read another review that said he uses too many sylables but with time he’ll learn to dumb it down and as a result they were giving him 3.5/5. That’s retarded in my opinion. If there are too many sylibals pick up a dictionary lol this album is beautifully written. They have lyric interpretations on rapgenius.com that are very cool

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  7. Just US

    3/5 at best

    [Reply]

  8. LAX

    All I can say is This Album is really Good….I love it!!! He makes good music and one of the best album this year

    [Reply]

  9. July18Madibsbirthday

    Thinkin bout u,pyramids and siera leone

    [Reply]

  10. If You Can't Take The Truth... TOO BAD!

    Random Thought: I wonder is he the pitcher or the catcher?

    [Reply]

    Meme Reply:

    @If You Can’t Take The Truth… TOO BAD!, It funny that u said that because I was wondering the same thing. Lmao. U think he’s the catcher tho.

    [Reply]

  11. NEUTRON

    Glad to see Rap-Up didnt pick the bandwagon “Bad Religion” & “Pink Matters” as their faves.

    [Reply]

    okpimpin Reply:

    @NEUTRON, but their the 2 best cuts on there! Also my fave Crack Rock, pyramids,pilot jones ..damn the whole thing! It flows just like Ultra great one btw!

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    @NEUTRON, “Bandwagon” doesn’t equate to preference. Those tracks are the standouts.

    [Reply]

  12. dopeness

    i love this album! but only thing that annoys me slightly is the amount of bridging tracks, like anything less than a minute and a half! for real. like i like an intro and outro dont get me wrong, but in between i really just wanted to listen to purely frank ocean songs. not hate-ing, cause id give this 9/10.. but just little to no snippets or skits, etc.. hope its not too long b4 frank releases another album :D

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  13. Dante

    doesnt even touch NostalgiaULTRA
    but its a good album… to say that everything leaked in btwn wasn’t that great/didn’t catch my attention as the mixtape did. I was beginning to think he was overrated but he lives up to the hype. genius.

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    ewp Reply:

    @Dante, how do you say its a good album and then end with calling him a “genius”. do you know what the word “genius” even means” i guess you also use the word “classic” for anything that is decent too right? get your act together!

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  14. Miles

    Great album. Better than nostalgia, ULTRA to me, because its all his material.
    Favorite Tracks: Super Rich Kids, Sweet Life, Monks, Crack Rock, Pink Matter, White(Tyler the Creator did a great job on that. John Mayor too. wish White was longer)

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  15. Layla

    He is slaying Chris Brown.

    [Reply]

    d Reply:

    @Layla, Two people who sing about two different things in two different areas. What is your claim based off of?

    [Reply]

    Shade Reply:

    @d, Frank Ocean’s singing and lyrical ability far surpasses Chris brown’s

    [Reply]

  16. MEEET

    I love this album could play it from start to finish… It’s no doubt a classic evey song is dope. Good job Frank buying another copy Tuesday.

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  17. @mfknTJ

    5/5

    [Reply]

  18. soulwoman

    4,5/5

    [Reply]

  19. nojusthenry

    amazing album…

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  20. Lauren

    4.5/5. I don’t know what Time Out New York is listening to.

    This album is just beautiful. There are only two tracks that have to grow on me — “Lost” & “Monks.” They’re not bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but when juxtaposed with my favorites, “Bad Religion,” “Sierra Leone” & “Pink Matter,” they are eclipsed.

    A physical copy is a MUST! 6 more days.

    [Reply]

  21. coolio

    I love all the tracks!! album of the year for sure!!!

    [Reply]

  22. DaEnglishKid

    This is the first R&B album that I’ve actually enjoyed… in terms of classic albums, is there even one classic R&B album in the last 10-15 years? I can only think of 1 and that is Lauren Hill’s album and that came out years ago.

    Compare that to rap over the last 10-15 years, we’ve had classic after classic, there has been so much from great rappers like Big Boi, Jay Z, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye, Common, early Eminem to pretty much every Roots album over this entire period, El-P etc etc..I could go on all night writing a list, every year we get a rap masterclass, for me this year it’s definitely El-P.

    This shows how bad R&B has been and more importantly how boring R&B has been, where we struggle to name even one classic album. Because of this it’s great to see this awesome album from Frank Ocean, carrying on the tradition of Marvin Gaye, making R&B that’s interesting, experimental with something more to say than your average boring ass R&B singers

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    Ash Reply:

    @DaEnglishKid, The Weeknd trilogy

    [Reply]

    Alan Reply:

    @DaEnglishKid, Classic – anything from Maxwell, anything from Badu, anything from Deangelo.

    [Reply]

  23. Dro

    Loved the album. I don’t feel it’s over hyped I feel like its the first album in a while to deal with EMOTIONS & Situations rather than just sex & possessions.

    It doesn’t sound like anybody else and I think that’s why its so successful. It’s not generic dance music or generic male R&B. You have to use your brain to understand and analyze some of the lyrics versus most R&B singers singing about wooing some chick in the club, partying or generic sex records.

    There’s genuine storytelling, poetry etc. the man is truly in a class of his own as far as mainstream goes

    [Reply]

  24. Miszi

    The lyricism deserve 5 stars, the beats are unique although I thought some could’ve been much better. I think the vocals were far less melodic on some tracks than they were on nostalgia, ULTRA though and it’s something I don’t like tbh. I think it’s a little bit overrated, I enjoyed nostalgia more, however it’s a real good album. 4/5 for me. Something different.

    [Reply]

  25. andrew

    to be honest i was sleeping on this guy never paid him much attention which is a shame as now i have to purchase everything he has ever done the albums is a masterpiece so easy to listen to and i don’t think there is another Rnb singer that can compare extremely impressed !!!

    [Reply]

  26. MmmHmm

    I ONLY LIKED 3 SONGS FROM THE WHOLE ALBUM :/

    [Reply]

  27. ANDRE 3 STACKS

    @MmmHmm, WHORE

    [Reply]

    MmmHmm Reply:

    @ANDRE 3 STACKS, why would call yourself one?

    [Reply]

  28. TheDreamer

    I give the album a 4.5/5. My favorite songs are Thinkin Bout You, Sweet Life, second half of Pyramids, White, Bad Religion and Forrest Gump. It’s a very creative and experimental album and may be hard for some people to get used to.

    [Reply]

  29. OUTRAGE OUTZILLA

    The album was so fucking awesome I feel like getting the CD itself & play it in my car it’s also like the sequel of nostalgia,ULTRA

    [Reply]

  30. Gwendolyn

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays.
    Gwendolyn

    [Reply]

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