By Andrea Lopez
I remember being on my laptop during the winter of my seventh-grade year. Tumblr skyrocketed—uniting fashionistas, poets, teachers, film lovers, photographers, writers and, most important, musicians. When new underground artists produced music that reached the souls of the young people, everyone reposted it with an urge to pass down the greatness that, unfortunately, just isn’t on the radio anymore. I was on Tumblr every day. As soon as I finished my homework, I logged on with a craving to discover what new ideas and music I would come across that day.
And then I found him.
Frank Ocean. I’m not speaking in a lovey dovey, puppy love, male fanatic type of way. I’m talking about a lyrically impressed, vocally assessed, and powerfully addressed type of way. There was a post that read,”NOSTALGIA ULTRA” with fourteen tracks right under it. The title of the mixtape definitely spoke to me and the friends with whom I shared it. Released in 2010, during a time where house music or rather, “party music” rose to the top of the Billboard charts. Therefore, it wasn’t hard to gravitate towards something that didn’t speak about throwing asses in the air and shuffling all over the dance floor.
I found myself listening to it more and more everyday. As a twenty-first century young girl, I was unaware of modern music that tried to deliver messages to the young members of our urban communities. The song on the album, “There Will Be Tears”, where Frank Ocean deliberately sings about losing the only, but also temporary, father figure in his life stated the silent truth that I had noticed all around me; boys don’t cry. He revealed the unspoken truth that Black and Brown boys put up a false front of strength, an admission that brought tears to me and to my male friends. I knew that Frank Ocean was a revolutionary, and I wanted more.
I listened to the album repeatedly and followed his career. I found it strange that he was a member of the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All group led by Tyler the Creator, who was known to be obnoxious and rude and didn’t really care what anybody had to say about him. The OF group also pulled numerous of childish pranks and recorded them and even ended them by shouting “WOLF GANG, KILL THE ALL.” Frank Ocean sat silently in the back minding his business.
A year before Nostalgia Ultra was released, Tyler released a song titled “Bastard”, where he spoke about how his mother raised him by herself and openly and angrily rapped about how he graduated high school without honors … or a father. I realized that Odd Future is more than a musical group, they are a brotherhood.
I understood why Frank Ocean joined OF and I no longer saw him as the stereotypical angry Black kid. There was more, and I wanted to learn more about him.
Until the summer of 2012. The summer before high school.
Frank Ocean released his first real album, Channel Orange, and it climbed the charts. The buzz about him was inescapable, especially among young people. We couldn’t believe what this guy sang about. Like Tyler, he didn’t care what people said. He just did it more politely. In the seventh track of the album, “Super Rich Kids”, he portrayed the reality of being rich and growing up with no real friends. In “Pyramids”, he glorified Black women and compared them to “Cleopatra.” He revealed his bisexuality and his fans loved him more.
He won everyone’s hearts with his authenticity and his simplicity. We wanted more. He released a couple of songs with Beyoncé and Kanye, but we wanted another album. We knew that he could deliver another cohesive work of art with a message.
He promised that Boys Don’t Cry would be released in the summer of 2015, but we are still waiting for it. I hope that he comes back and reminds us that we are not a lost generation and that we can produce meaningful music.