What an amazing, shocking, and courageous move. Frank Ocean just made history.
This week, rumors started buzzing about Frank Ocean’s upcoming Channel Orange album…not about the amazing songwriting, or sure-fire hits…but about lyrical references that Ocean makes to homosexuality. UK radio host, Max Akhtar, attended a Channel Orange listening session and wrote: “On the songs ‘Bad Religion,’ ‘Pink Matter’ and ‘Forrest Gump’ you can hear him sing about being in love and there are quite obvious words used like ‘him’ and not ‘her.’”
And another source told me about a song lyric that says something to the effect of: “running ’round my head, boy.”
Read full story and letter from Frank Ocean after the jumpBut most industry vets chalked up the uproar to a well-timed publicity stunt. Remember how Lil’ B named his album, I’m Gay? Only to back away from the issue when questioned. We’ve heard so many rumors of homosexual hip hop artists, we’ve chased the myth of the Gay Rapper, and overanalyzed every “pause”-worthy song lyric. The wall of silence may be breaking down in pop music and in Hollywood, but it continues to keep mainstream hip hop and R&B stars deep in the closet. Until now.
At 1am, appropriately on the 4th of July, Frank Ocean posted two notes on his tumblr.
The first is titled: “Based God was right,” in reference to Lil B. Frank writes that he was planning to open up in his album liner notes, but has decided to address the current rumors here instead.
The second post is a photo of a long typed letter, in which Frank tells the heartbreaking story of being 19 years old, and falling in love for the first time…with a male friend.
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. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiation with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life…
Read Frank Ocean’s full statement, one of the most moving love letters I’ve ever read….
And see reactions from his fellow OFWGKTA members Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and others…
After the jump
Frank Ocean’s Open Letter:
Whoever you are, wherever you are, I’m beginning to think we’re a lot alike. Human beings spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to. My loved ones are everything to me here. 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 his 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 no escaping, no negotiation with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life.
Back then, my mind would wander to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with. I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager … the ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak. I realized too much, too quickly. Imagine being thrown from a plane. I wasn’t in a plane though. I was in a Nissan Maxima, the same car I packed up with bags and drove to Los Angeles in. I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best. But he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn’t on a cliff. I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn’t imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn’t always successful.
The dance went on … I kept the rhythm for several summers after. It’s winter now. I’m typing this on a plane back to Los Angeles from New Orleans. I flew home for another marred Christmas. I have a windowseat. It’s December 27, 2011. By now I’ve written two albums, this being the second. I wrote to keep myself busy and sane. I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions. I’m surprised at how far all of it has taken me. Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive; kept me sane … sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are … great humans, probably angels. I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore. There’s probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean. I was never alone, as much as I felt like it … as much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don’t think I ever could be. Thanks. To my first love. I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was. Some things never are … and we were. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you. I’ll remember who you were and how we’ve both changed and stayed the same. I’ve never had more respect for life and living than I have right now. Maybe it takes a near death experience to feel alive. Thanks. To my mother, you raised me strong. I know I’m only brave because you were first … so thank you. All of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man. If I listen closely … I can hear the sky falling too.
Be clear. Frank Ocean, as part of a hip hop collective (Odd Future), will go down in history as the most high profile hip hop/R&B artist to go public with their homosexuality or bi-sexuality. In the same year that President Obama publicly supports gay marriage, and Anderson Cooper comes out of the closet, it will be really interesting to see how one of the more openly homophobic subcultures reacts to Frank’s honesty. Is his audience younger and more open-minded so it won’t phase them? Will other long-rumored gay, lesbian, or bisexual hip hop stars be inspired to make their own statements?
Ironically, Frank’s crew has put out some really homophobic lyrics, but they also have openly lesbian DJ Syd. But for Frank Ocean to tackle this scary step by facing it head on, no Oprah moment, no subliminals….just an brutally honest love story. It’s a really amazing moment.
Story courtesy of MissInfo.TV