He made waves by coming out shortly before his debut album did, but Frank Ocean’s sexuality isn’t the big story about him. He’s an extraordinary singer-songwriter, an R&B original who made his reputation with a mixtape (last year’s Nostalgia, Ultra), and whose album heralds a unique sound. There are hints of Prince and Elton John here, as well as guest appearances by John Mayer and underground rap collective Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt and a 10-minute suite that conflates Cleopatra with a contemporary stripper. Mostly, though, Channel Orange is about Ocean’s singing and narrative voice: both are supple and sly, and never quite say everything they know.
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Top 10 Albums
- 10. Killer Mike, R.A.P. Music
- 9. Azealia Banks, 1991 EP
- 8. The Mountain Goats, Transcendental Youth
- 7. Various Artists, Listen, Whitey! The Sounds of Black Power 1967–74
- 6. Swans, The Seer
- 5. Getatchew Mekuria & the Ex & Friends, Y’Anbessaw Tezeta
- 4. Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan
- 3. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
- 2. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city
- 1. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do