Frank Ocean: Hipster Cool or Mainstream Innovator?

Frank Ocean’s name really became known when he was tied to Beyoncé’s “I Miss You” from her 4 album. Then he completed work on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne album. The buzz just continued to grow. Next came the releases of Novacane, Swim Good, and Thinking About You, three singles that helped solidify his position as a solo artist. And finally, Mr. Ocean spawned a wide array of notable YouTube covers, the sure sign that you have truly arrived. Now with his debut album channel ORANGE being released, his success continues.

But why?

What is it about Frank Ocean that has people running to iTunes to download his music? I give him credit for being a very talented writer and producer, and there is a certain gritty, sincere dimension to his delivery. But his singing voice (in my opinion) is not that notable. In fact, a good number of the previously mentioned YouTube covers and mixtape covers produced much better vocal performances of his tunes, and those versions seemed better primed for mainstream acceptance. If somehow you have managed to dodge the deluge of covers, here are links to a few:

[youtube], [youtube]

I am getting the feeling that his career as an artist will fade once the new flavor of the month arrives. In this fickle marketplace however, you just never know what will hit or miss.

Listen to his song Sweet LIFE here: [soundcloud url=”″ iframe=”true” /]

What do you say Water Cooler Community?


Photo credit: david_hwang (Flickr: Frank Ocean) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The following two tabs change content below.

Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.

3 Responses

  1. While I agree that his voice is lackluster, there’s something in his laidback delivery that strikes me as cool. I have both the Mixtape and channelORANGE, and I have a few jams that I ride to. And let’s face it, there are a few voices out there in the music industry, most technically enhanced, who lack the artistry that this man posesses in his pinky.

  2. I totally agree sir. Especially on the “technically enhanced” aspect. Do we even really know what people sound like anymore? It is a little frightening. He is definitely a true artist but how will consumerism devour him? With this industry, there really is no way to know if he’ll stick or slide down into nothing like Ciara, Ashanti, Bobby Valentino and J Holiday.

  3. WritetoLive says:

    I agree. It just seems like artists like Frank Ocean tend to make a big splash and then fade away. People think it is cool to be different i.e. artistic, until the next new thing comes around. It’s sad.