Frank Ocean – “Chanel”

ye

“Chanel” by Frank Ocean (no label, 2017)

So many names get dropped in “Chanel”: Cam’ron, the city of Shibuya, Gaspard Noe, 21 Savage (or at least a very clever reference to him), Dennis Rodman, Delta airlines, and of course, the designer brand where the song gets its name. But one name remains untold, and it’s one I’m most curious about.

Who knows who Frank Ocean means when he briefly sings about “my guy,” pretty like a girl with fight stories to tell. That’s all he tells you. Genius writes a good one in relation to Frank’s ambiguous sense of sexuality, though the annotations are dubious. For all he sings, “he” could be his ride. Because he sure loves to talk about cars more than people: from what I read in interviews, he spends more energy investing in where his cars reside than his own self. All these car metaphors start to sound less and less like innuendo.

The car talk is important, though. Frank Ocean’s world is built upon items and brands; they’re what gives it life. CD-Rs and Walkmans tell how he experiences music while they tells how his universe has no future nor past. Details and slang come with their own hyperlink, so he’s sort of a punchline rapper. But he’s not one by choice: without a reference to celebrity or item of clout, his world crumbles.

All his brand talk, then, is how he hides. His public display of interests is there to distract you from more private matters. It’s why he has to his tattoos in Shibuya. Though he worries it might paint a wrong impression of him as some kind of member of the city’s underworld, he fears more about being asked about the personal meaning behind the ink. His stacks of $1,000 Delta gift cards sound like a flex, and sure, it might be intended as one. But I worry about what made Frank accumulates such a big amount of airline certificates. Is he running away from something? Someone? And why?

Frank’s music is intimate but on his own terms. I love “Nike” because he similarly obscures what he wants to say: I remember more the name drops of Pimp C, ASAP Yams and Trayvon Martin than any specific details he might have revealed in that song. Except for the last part about not being the one but at least being good. The bit that cuts through in “Chanel” isn’t the designer-brand double entendre but the most direct and tender sentence that follows: “It’s really you on my mind.” There, another name kept in secret. Though Frank may never share it, he has already told enough.

 

EP 13 “R My I Sockets Ready”(Liahnna and Ryo)

sensation

SORRY FOR THE GIANT DELAY. Due to legal obligations i was not available to edit and upload this past week. But yah boy back  and WE FINALLY GET RYO ON THE PODCAST!!!! Were also joined by fan favorite Liahnna Walker. We just chop it up about Future’s double album drop and Get Out, again, cus we cant get enough.

April – ‘Prelude’

ye.png

Prelude EP by April (DSP Media, 2017)

My response for April’s music video for “April Story” was overall positive but it also made me wonder that, well, I might be too old for this shit. The clip sells a starry-eyed brand of young-girl innocence with the members literally playing porcelain dolls,  and the string-led pop backing the group personifies their white lace dresses to a T.

The pop innocence of April is preserved through a borrowing of nostalgia, drawing from more classic pop with soft guitar strums, string embellishments and boogie bass lines. Sure, buzzing synths lights the stage of “Muah!,” but take the kits away, and the kick and bass line makes it a decent disco pastiche.  The accents of strings and bells in “April Story” or “Stop the Time” wink back further to the age of classic girl groups, who set the standard of age-appropriate playground romance in pop music.

The pop template followed by April may be a safe route to more easily reap rewards, though it’s far from a statement. And I’m not too confident to say prudence is a major sell this day and age in pop music. That said, their softer approach to youth is a welcome alternative from other girl groups who double down on a bubbly, girly persona or even the older units who work tirelessly to define adult-rated edginess to convey maturity.

[6]