Welcome Out, Frank Ocean

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2012

Frank Ocean, the R&B singer whose critically-acclaimed album self-released nostalgia, ULTRA was named as among the best of 2011, announced on his Tumblr page Tuesday that his first love, at the age of nineteen, was with a man:

In the last year or 3 I’ve screamed at my creator, screamed at clouds in the sky, for some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna somehow. 4 summers ago, I met somebody. I Was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together, everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and h is silence..until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was not escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love. It changed my life.

Ocean is part of the hip-hop collective Odd Future, and he was featured on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s album “Watch the Throne.” He finished in second place in the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll. Tyler the Creator, another member of Odd Future, took to Twitter to congratulate his fellow artist. This is significant since Tyler the Creator has his own problems with homophobia, with his album Goblet repeating the word “faggot” or other anti-gay variants 213 times. Ocean’s first studio album, Channel Orange is due to be released on July 17.

Regan DuCasse

July 5th, 2012

The NYTimes has an article about Frank Ocean up today.
With samples of his lyrics.

I have to say, unlike most young artists today, he does impress with them.

And perhaps the angst that comes with being gay, gives him the soulful edge he has.
Given him an inner life a lot of young performers don’t have.

We shall see.

tristram

July 5th, 2012

I was only vaguely aware of this guy before this story broke. But I agree with those who see this as an act of considerable courage and a BIG THING. Hip-hop/R&B has a huge following and the whole milieu has not been gay-friendly. There is a perception – similar to that in high-level sports – that coming out would probably end one’s career. This act of a young, rising-but-not-established artist to bare his soul in an open letter (rather than cryptic lyrics)is sure to change hearts and minds.

Ocean’s letter, entitled “Thank You’s” is readily available on the internet. It’s well worth tracking down and reading. He chronicles not just his coming to terms with his true self, but finding and losing his first love – and moving on (something that can be more difficult for some of us than coming out in the first place).

MCB

July 5th, 2012

Jay-Z, not Jaz-Z. He’s gone on record supporting Obama’s support of gay marriage: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/14/jay-z-gay-marriage-obama_n_1516614.html

Kanye West, meanwhile, was one of the first mainstream rappers to openly voice criticism of the homophobia in rap and hip-hop culture, and though he hasn’t been 100% perfect in all his lyrics, he didn’t have any homophobic slurs that I could hear* in last year’s magnum opus, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” which is a rarity in today’s rap culture.

Hopefully they’ll both step up for Frank Ocean, and as two of the biggest names in rap music, that’s a big boon.

*I really like that album. Kanye West is a jerk, but he makes good music.

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2012

I fixed the typo.

Blake

July 6th, 2012

All I know is that Loiter Squad makes me laugh. I’m not sure Frank Ocean’s coming out just yet. Hipsters have a way of defying expectations. But y’all are probably right.

Brady

July 6th, 2012

His coming out letter, “Thank You’s” is quite moving. It captures the essence of coming out, even to one’s self quite eloquently. The part about this taboo relationship was especially moving for me.

Timothy (TRiG)

July 17th, 2012

I’m not sure whether you’ve heard of Jay Smooth. He’s a video blogger who has a radio show about rap and hip hop, and has built up a reputation as an astute cultural commentator. (He even spoke once at TEDx.)

Anyway, here’s his response to Frank Ocean, wherein he contrasts Anderson Cooper’s simple declaration “I’m gay” with Frank Ocean’s unlabeled narrative.

TRiG.

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