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Def Jam's contracted edition of Frank Ocean's Nostalgia, Ultra never materialized. The label nonetheless released two of the mixtape's songs as singles. One of them, "Novacane," clashed with everything else on the radio, reached the Top 20 of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart, and crossed into the Hot 100. The singer's presence spread with appearances on Goblin, 4, Watch the Throne, and The OF Tape, Vol. 2. He then completed this album with Malay, Om'Mas Keith, and Pharrell as his co-producers. Journalists present at June pre-release listening events speculated that some of the lyrics revealed Ocean's bisexuality. Ocean subsequently published a screen shot of a document, dated December 27, 2011, that included details of a crushing romantic relationship with a male. Ocean also revealed that he wrote for the sake of his sanity and credited his inner circle: "I'm sure these people kept me alive, kept me safe." One listen to Channel Orange makes it obvious that he is as free as an artist as he is as a man. The album doesn't have as many slyly powerful hooks as Nostalgia, Ultra, but Ocean's descriptive and subtle storytelling is taken to a higher level. He's up there with Bilal. As easy as it is to listen to Ocean's voice in long stretches -- he's casually expressive -- the number of deep ruminations over slow tempos requires some patience. Even the lone song that could be termed a banger is a ten-minute suite that takes 90 seconds to get on the floor; the song with the widest and most creative scope as well, "Pyramid" shifts from "my black Queen Cleopatra" and ancient Egypt (over swift synth funk) to "Your love ain't free no more" and a strip club (over booming, low-profile slickness). The lighter moments, such as the loose and bright "Sweet Life" and the relatively exuberant "Monks," both of which would be standouts on any N.E.R.D. album, offer more than bright coating, dealing in surrealism and sharp observations that are equally penetrating. On the other end, the most personal song is "Bad Religion," a phenomenal brokenhearted ballad consisting of organ, piano, strings, and handclaps: "This unrequited love/To me it's nothing but a one-man cult/And cyanide in my Styrofoam cup." Everything that falls between, counting the rumbling drug dependency tale "Crack Rock," the snapping/swooning "Pilot Jones," and the longing falsetto shuffle "Thinkin Bout You," is vivid and worthy of complete immersion.

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Product Details

Release Date: 07/11/2012
Label: Def Jam
UPC: 0602527755281
catalogNumber: 001578802
Rank: 118


  1. Start
  2. Thinkin Bout You
  3. Fertilizer
  4. Sierra Leone
  5. Sweet Life
  6. Not Just Money
  7. Super Rich Kids
  8. Pilot Jones
  9. Crack Rock
  10. Pyramids
  11. Lost
  12. White
  13. Monks
  14. Bad Religion
  15. Pink Matter
  16. Forrest Gump
  17. End/Golden Girl

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Frank Ocean   Primary Artist,Keyboards
Lalah Hathaway   Background Vocals
Matt Chamberlain   Drums
Charlie Hunter   Bass
Francisco Torres   Brass
Jeff Babko   Keyboards
Pharrell Williams   Keyboards
Om'Mas Keith   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Irvin Mayfield   Brass
Stacy Barthe   Background Vocals
Dave Eggar   Strings
Sarah Parkins   Strings
James Ho   Bass,Keyboards,Background Vocals,Brass
Shea Taylor   Keyboards
Raymond Buck   Background Vocals
Juliet Buck   Background Vocals
Elizabeth Paige   Background Vocals
Danielle Miranda-Simms   Background Vocals
Crimson Tide Cheerleaders   Background Vocals
Chuck Palmer   Strings
Auntie Rosie   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Matt Chamberlain   Programming
Mark Morales   Composer
Nat Robinson   Composer
Mark Rooney   Composer
Pat Thrall   Engineer
Barry Weiss   Label Consultant
Scott Marcus   Label Consultant
Steve Bartels   Label Consultant
Pharrell Williams   Composer,Programming,Producer
André Benjamin   Composer
Aaron Martinez   Artwork
Roy Hammond   Composer
Om'Mas Keith   Producer,Engineer
Michael Seltzer   Label Consultant
Andrew Coleman   Engineer
Christian Clancy   Management
Gabe Tesoriero   Label Consultant
Thomas Mastorakos   Artwork
Karen Kwak   Label Consultant
James Fauntleroy   Composer
Micah Otano   Composer
Doug Fenske   Engineer
Kirk Robinson   Composer
Everest   Executive Producer
Marcos Tovar   Engineer
Phillip Scott   Engineer
Kristen Yiengst   Label Consultant
Calvin Bailiff   Engineer
Reggie Perry   Composer
James Ho   Composer,Programming,Producer
Jeff Ellis   Engineer
Mark C. Rooney   Composer
Shea Taylor   Composer
Monte Neuble   Composer
Michelle Jubelirer   Legal Counsel
Ken Oriole   Vocal Engineer
Frank Ocean   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes
Kelly Clancy   Management
Reginald Perry   Composer
Vic Wainstein   Engineer
Akinah Rahmaan   Label Consultant
Dan Jensen   Legal Counsel
Tyler Okonma   Composer
Gabrielle Peluso   Label Consultant
Phil Toselli   Artwork
Thebe Kgositsile   Composer
Rosie Watson   Composer
Christopher Breaux   Composer
Mark Morales   Composer

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