Matson on Music
Summer of Frank Ocean: 'Sierra Leone'
Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange" is the summer album of 2012 — a low-key stroke of genius from the Los Angeles-via-New Orleans R&B singer-songwriter, making headlines for bringing man/man romance into pop R&B. But it's deeper than that. I'm blogging about each song individually, in order. Sorry but Internet Explorer does not support the full album stream below.
Bet you didn't know your boy had flow though! Excuse me, please pardon that outburst. What I mean is that "Sierra Leone" is where people get the idea Frank Ocean can rap. And maybe he can. The guy is all about maybes. But this isn't really rapping. "Sierra Leone" contains a cascade of syllables delivered in a raplike manner, however, that impresses on a few levels, showing not only that most other R&B singers are lazy wordsmiths (compared to Ocean's "tidbits of intuition I be gettin': abandon mission") but just lazy with their cadences. The simple explosion and trail-off in Ocean's "Sier-RA Leone..." is enough to make you think deeply about what the place means, the way he sings it. He also draws special significance to Denver, Colo., indicating that the protagonist has immigrated there, and references an unnamed "Lennon lullabye." Layers upon layers. And the song is about nostalgia for young sex. Very Princelike.