Monday, September 20, 2021

‘Chanel’ exceeds expectations

Frank Ocean has built some of his best music around the idea of duality.

Last year’s “Nights” from his sophomore album seams together epics about self-sacrifice and conflicting schedules before an electronic fissure transforms the tri-hop song into an R&B ballad.

Similarly, his 2009 nine-minute opus “Pyramids” blends elements like prog-rock, alternative R&B and electronic in a tale about foregone lovers as the beat changes and radically defies easily classifiable genre boxes. The accompanying video for the lead single of “Blonde”, “Nikes”, featured a memorable duet of Ocean’s one of his pitch-shifted vocals laid atop Ocean’s infallible falsetto crooning that he had “two versions.” Time and time again, Ocean proves to be at his most compelling when he is singing from the heart about wrestling with competing identities.

“Chanel”, which premiered March 10, on the the singer’s Beats Radio show, is his most dualistic work yet. The song shares the only characteristic you can blanket over every one of Ocean’s songs: ambiguity.

Ocean brags in the same voice he reveals his fears of police confrontation. Then, he recalls existential reflections seconds before referencing a popular 21 Savage meme, where the Atlanta rapper exclaims “issa knife”. In the midst of everything, it’d be easy to miss Ocean’s subtext about the duplicity at the front of his mind: bisexuality and gender expectations. “My guy pretty like a girl and he got fight stories to tell,” Ocean sings.

While sonically in line with “Blonde”, Ocean’s third release, “Chanel”, subverts expectations again. Over minimized production, a shuffling piano and steel drums, the singer vocals stand center stage and coated in reverb as he states plainly he can “see on both sides like Chanel.”

This and his earlier release this year, the Calvin Haris and Migos assisted “Slide”, sounds more accessible than anything Ocean has released prior. The newly radio-friendly Ocean is far from a disappointment; both songs stand as highpoints in the artist’s catalog. This new direction is put into a greater context when examining the interview with rapper and mogul Jay Z, Ocean posted on his first episode of the Beats Radio show.

After dissecting the demographics of radio listeners, the repetitiveness of modern stations Jay Z said “Bob Marley, right now, would not get played on a pop station. Which is crazy.” Ocean, who has never had a single debut on the Top 40 before “Slide”, has clearly taken note of pop’s current landscape and is ready for takeover.

Email Taylor Richardson at

- Advertisment -


Cardinals tripped up after no contest

Liam Sample and Garrett Collins The Men’s soccer team game in Castleton was declared a no-decision due to inclement weather Wednesday evening. The Star time was...

Women’s soccer team notches first win

Drew Wemple The Women’s soccer team collected its first win of the season this past sunday Sept. 5 vs. Russell Sage College. The Lady Cardinals...

Volleyball ends weekend with one win

Garrett Collins The Cardinals were looking to make a statement last weekend in the North Country Classic, Which saw the Cardinals take on Clarkson, St....

Tennis Drops 2 in Double Header

Garrett Collins Women's tennis has ended a long road stretch in this early season that saw them face SUNY Oswego, SUNY Cortland, and last weeked...