Frank Ocean at the Commodore Ballroom
Talk about timing. Singer Frank Ocean, known best for his membership in the Cali hip-hop collective Odd Future, came out as bisexual on July 4, thus ensuring that his name would still be everywhere by the time he dropped his first solo album, Channel Orange, a week later. That may be too crass a way to look at things, though. After all, it took serious guts for someone associated with the often-homophobic hip-hop world to be so open about his sexuality. Mind you, Channel Orange isn’t a hip-hop record, but an R&B one. As tempting as it is to read lyrics as autobiography, Ocean has described himself as a storyteller, and the tales he relates here are about the excesses of SoCal rich kids and pimps, and the travails of junkies and hookers. Through it all, Ocean—who plays the Commodore on Saturday (July 14)—avoids the vocal histrionics typical of his chosen genre, favouring a low-key approach akin to that of his Canadian counterpart the Weeknd. It may not prove to be a game-changer, but Channel Orange is good—good enough to get people talking about something other than where Ocean sticks his junk.