Won’t it be the most predictable, embarrassing thing if the media actually talks about Frank Ocean’s sexuality at the Grammys next year? Everyone will be over it, right? I’m writing this on 12.12.12, and it’s my wish to the universe: Be cool, world.
Let’s face it: his album, channel ORANGE, would have done just as well this year if he hadn’t “come out” or written that “open love letter” to a dude, or replaced all the pronouns with “she”. It is an impressive, seamless work written by a truly gifted young man who has no need to prove himself. His successful songs for others (John Legend, the Biebs) had set the stage for this moment. However, the publicity around the release of this album made many wonder if his little tumblr coming out party was a stunt. It was a week before the album dropped. Was he pressured into it? Did he feel as though he needed to give his music context? A compulsion to be honest? There was a lot of hype coming from a lot of angles, and it catapulted the release and subsequent reviews into a higher profile situation. It certainly made waves and got a lot of attention from a variety of communities. But what happened this summer was that the music community supported him and his honesty, even the ones you wouldn’t expect (his colleague Tyler the Creator is allegedly uncomfortable with these things, but he rose to the occasion). Others (Chris Brown, 50 Cent) may or may not have been so accepting. But have you listened to this album? It’s like he’s seeing things from above, telling stories for you to interpret any way you like, neither happy or sad; hopeful or maybe hopeless, full of musical nods and somehow defying genre.
So the glitter has settled, and he has been nominated for six Grammys. Everyone always bitches about how the nominations always miss something important, it is too mainstream, blah blah, Of course this is true, get over it. My hope is that this year, the unpredictable will prevail. When Frank Ocean takes the stage, as he undoubtedly will, to accept his first Grammy of the night, will it be up to him to bring up his sexuality? Will it be a non-issue not because of fear, but because of acceptance and love? The legacy of this album could be one of a breakthrough of tolerance in a resistant musical community that will permeate the industry and perhaps others. We’ll just have to wait and see what he has to say about it.