CHANNEL ORANGE: 5 YEARS LATER
WRITTEN BY KARAN TELI
10/07/2012. Way before streaming and Apple Music. I woke up that morning for school looking for an illegal download link; couldn’t find one. Walking to school, I decided to spend £10 of my own money for the digital version of Channel Orange, not even the damn CD.
Jump forward 5 years, to the date, I’m scrolling my Twitter and on my timeline I see ‘Frank Ocean released Channel Orange 5 years ago today.’ I had to check Wikipedia to make sure it was true, and that I wasn’t being trolled. Turns out it was true, and those memories of 5 years earlier; listening to it for the first time on the way to school came rushing back. I’m pretty sure I called the album a classic after my first listen. I was right. I remember all the heated musical debates I had with Ian, Lee, Eman, Ben and countless others and how we’d always say Pyramids is one of the best songs ever made. I stand by that statement. Since its release, no song released has been better than Pyramids. My opinion, don’t kill me. My iTunes says I’ve listened to it 2621 times; wrong. It’s way more.
I remember when he penned the open letter, not even a week before the album came out. That was risky. A young, black R&B singer, with no album out, letting the world know he was bi-sexual, how his first encounter with love came at 19 years old, with another man and that it is very likely he would be addressing that on his album. It’s a genre that almost frowns upon the idea of a male singing romantically about anybody but a female; but then he remembered the most important thing about music is using it to be yourself. Must have inspired a lot of people to be comfortable and open with their sexuality. Now that’s how you create a legacy. ‘Your legacy is every life you’ve touched’ said Oprah. His legacy was set after Channel Orange, everything after is just a bonus. The man credited his damn dog (R.I.P Everest) as an executive producer; he doesn’t care about rules or convention.
This album meant a lot to me. Still does. Got me through some hard times, and turned an artist that I liked into one of my favourite artists of all time. I still bump songs from it regularly; I was playing Bad Religion when I read on my timeline that it had been 5 years. Talk about irony. That just shows genuinely good music really lives forever. Musically, the influence is apparent with artists like Kevin Abstract, SZA, Gallant, Nao, Khelani, Khalid and Daniel Ceaser; that’s just off the top of my head.
My favourite thing about all of this is that I’m going to hear him sing my favourite songs from Channel Orange at Lovebox this week. What A Time To Be Alive.
Thank you Frank, Malay, Tyler, 3 Stacks, Pharrell, Earl, John Mayer, James Fauntleroy and Everest.