The Verdict: Channel OrangeOur track-by-track review of Frank Ocean's instant classic

SO HAVE YOU HEARD that Frank Ocean is bisexual? Of course you have. A couple of weeks ago, everyone from your Great Aunt Gertrude to Beyonce was talking about the crooner’s unexpected revelation. How will the more conservative figures in the hip hop community respond to this? Did he just come out of the closet as a marketing tactic? Is he dating Anderson Cooper? Those, to name a few, were just a few of the thousands of questions being argued into the ground both online and off.

Just a few days later, though, all the debates and deliberations came to a screeching halt. Last Monday, Ocean changed the conversation by dropping yet another stunner: his jaw-dropping debut album, Channel Orange. It’s a career-making record, one that will elevate the New Orleans native from an underground favorite to a fully-fledged superstar.

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Weeknd at the OceanTwo of the most fascinating artists in R&B occupy opposing ends of the psychological spectrum

FRANK OCEAN AND ABEL TESAYFE, better known as The Weeknd, are far from the best singers in R&B. Numerous performers, both mainstream and underground, are miles ahead of them in terms of technical ability. In spite of this, they are still currently the best two artists in the genre. When it comes to lyricism, perfectly complementing their production with their voices and consistently adhering to a thought-provoking artistic aesthetic, they’re without a doubt the two best doing it right now. They’re disciples of soul music in its truest essence, creating art that directly reflects their emotions and mentality.

Where they differ from other experimental R&B artists who also operate on a deeper level is the fact that their songs sound so good. It’s one thing to make raw and intellectually stimulating music; it’s another thing to make it accessible enough for radio play without sacrificing its integrity. I won’t bother arguing who’s better, which really comes down to stylistic preference. Instead I’ll compare the personas they establish on their most definitive works thus far, Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra and The Weeknd’s House of Balloons.

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