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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 13 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 28
Frank Ocean makes waves
Hip-hop sensation's story of same-sex love causes a stir
Arts & Entertainment
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Frank Ocean makes waves
Hip-hop sensation's story of same-sex love causes a stir

by Dru Dinero - Special to the SGN

July 3, 10:06 p.m. In the wake of his official coming-out - one of the most anticipated (and unsurprising) admissions of Gay sexual orientation ever - Anderson Cooper is overshadowed by a 24-year-old sharing his own story about his first love, a same-sex relationship. This young man came out quietly (very fitting for his soft-spoken demeanor and creative personality) by posting a snapshot on his Tumblr blog of a note he had written on his TextEdit app.

He wrote, '4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too.' He later says in his note, '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 his silence. Until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. & It was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, and it changed my life.' This young man's name is Frank Ocean.

Ocean comes from a new style of art and music. His conscientious songs about being in love, social issues, and young fantasies mix hip-hop and R&B influences in a way never really heard before. He is a soulful and believable crooner, and a complex, yet relatable, writer.

At a young age, after moving to Los Angeles from his hometown of New Orleans, Ocean began making a career as a ghostwriter for stars such as Justin Bieber, Bridget Kelly, Brandy, and John Legend. In 2010, after networking for some time, Ocean became a member of the highly controversial music group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, known as OFWGKTA or Odd Future for short. It is very interesting that an artist like Ocean became a member of this group, as their sound seems a polar opposite from his own. Despite the obvious musical differences, in 2011 Ocean released a critically acclaimed mixtape, nostalgia, ULTRA., which yielded the hit songs 'Novacane' and 'Swim Good.'

The mixtape caught the attention of hip-hop and R&B bigwigs and landed Ocean on Jay-Z and Kanye West's album Watch the Throne. On this extremely successful recording, Ocean darkly harmonizes on the chorus on the single 'No Church in the Wild' and soulfully sings about the American way on 'Made in America.'

There has been much speculation on whether the hip-hop community was ready, or would ever be ready, to accept an openly Gay male artist. The genre has long held a mostly negative view of homosexuality, a view that that is often vocalized through the music itself. Odd Future's founder, Tyler the Creator, has often been criticized for his frequent use of the word 'faggot.' Asked about this in an interview with NME, Tyler said, '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.'

It is important to point out, however, that the only female member of Odd Future, Syd Tha Kyd, is a Lesbian, as she made very clear in her music video 'Cocaine.' After Ocean's coming-out, Tyler tweeted support for him, endearingly calling Ocean his 'older brother.' Tyler later said on Formspring that Ocean had come out to him 'a long time ago.'

And Tyler is not the only member of the hip-hop community who has publicly supported Ocean's decision to talk openly about his sexuality. Others who have done so include Jay-Z, Beyonce, Russell Simmons, Busta Rhymes, and Ne-Yo.

This is a huge milestone for the hip-hop community. As a straight ally and an active listener to hip-hop since grade school, I always found it difficult to defend the genre to many of my Gay friends. There were times when I would want to share a song I had just heard or was excited about, but would hesitate due to fear that the artist may have said something that would offend my friend, and that in turn I would be looked upon as indirectly supporting homophobia. Ocean is a beacon of light in a genre of music that was in desperate need of one. Thanks to his bravery, hip-hop has finally caught up to 2012.

Since coming out, Ocean has released his new album, Channel ORANGE, which is getting rave reviews. In songs like 'Bad Religion,' 'Pink Matter,' and 'Forrest Gump,' Ocean openly talks about his sexuality in a way never before dreamed of in an album by an artist with the hip-hop brand attached to his name.

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Soul survivors
Remembering the '90s with a little help from my friends

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Frank Ocean makes waves
Hip-hop sensation's story of same-sex love causes a stir

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Emmys 2012: And the nominees will be...
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Bookmarks: Melissa Scott mixes whodunit, Gay love, fantasy, and speculative fiction
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Breaking Bad star makes pro-marriage video
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SPT's silly summer comedy offers irresistible delight
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A Dyke About Town
k.d. lang creates constant craving

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Frank Ocean review in next week's issue
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APPROVE 74!
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Visually audacious Beasts wildly uneven
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New DVDs highlight Channing Tatum, Sarah Silverman, Whoopi, Madonna
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Fourth Ice Age saga is frozenly mundane
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Northwest News
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