Swim Good: Frank Ocean Rides Indie Wave to the Top
If rappers could sing, they would sound like Frank Ocean.
After swimming in underground streams as the most popular member of indie rap group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or OFWGKTA for short, the 23-year-old singer/songwriter is finally cresting music waves with his solo LP, "Nostalgia, Ultra." Ocean released the album for free on his Tumblr page in February after a frustrating push-and-pull from parent label, Def Jam. However, after the success of the first single, "Novacane," a frank (pun intended) and lyrically explicit song about sex, drugs and heartbreak set to a sad, electronically cadenced beat, which will be officially released on iTunes on May 31, the label has refocused its attention on Ocean and is re-releasing the album.
The tenor's raw, "life-is-hard-so-deal-with-it" songs and production savvy (He transformed Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing" into an urban break-up jam; He has a somewhat obsessive tendency toward lovelorn lyrics.) have struck mass appeal with a music-loving collective insistent on authenticity in the wake of a music industry devoid of substance. It is no surprise, then, that he has attracted hip-hop royalty, working with respected rap veteran and label mate Nas who is notoriously known for sticking to his classic Queensbridge flow while other MCs head on over to autotuned, "pretty boy swag" territories.
Ocean has also had the fortune to work with other established artists, such as Pharrell of the Neptunes, Justin Bieber, John Legend and even the music scion herself, Beyonce Knowles', whom he assisted in producing her forthcoming album, "4."
Now, Ocean is ready to step into a spotlight of his own, remixing and remastering his album to make it perfect for the listening public.
"I'm big on sharing stuff when it's complete," said Ocean to BlackBook Magazine. "Once it's complete, I don't care if it leaks or people get it or whatever, I don't really think about stuff like that. But if it's incomplete and people get it, I have like panic attacks and nervous breakdowns."
"Nostalgia, Ultra" is set to be re-released on July 26.
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