A good album gives you something to bop to repeatedly for weeks, but a great album is timeless, genre-defying and ultimately changes the very fabric of the music industry. Five years ago today, Frank Ocean did all of that and more when he released his debut album Channel Orange.
While the sound Ocean created and curated on Channel Orange has shaped music, so too have his personal lyrics and open identity as a queer artist.
Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling.
It was my first love, it changed my life [ Some things never are. When Ocean uploaded that post late night on July 3,he changed everything. His letter was an introduction—a precursor of what would come when Channel Orange eventually dropped July Running on my mind boy," he repeats.
In one letter and two tracks, Ocean singlehandedly ushered in a new era for queer inclusiveness in mainstream music. Kennedy explainedthis was "the glass ceiling moment for music.
Especially black music, which has long been in desperate need of a voice like Ocean's to break the layers of homophobia.
In the past few months alone, rappers like iLoveMakonnen and Taylor Bennett have come out as gay and bisexual, respectively.
On his more recent single, "Chanel," Ocean sings about his own bisexuality with the iconic, effective line, "I see both sides like Chanel. But it's in the measured, muted response to Ocean's standalone song about bisexuality that hip-hop post- Channel Orange progress is most apparent.
Today, as we look back on the incredible legacy of Channel Orangewe do so in a world reshaped by Ocean's cathartic ode to unrequited, queer love.
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