Frank Ocean is the Michael Jackson of R&B. Oh ho, heavy proclamation you say? Obviously you haven’t heard “Pyramids,” the first single off his upcoming debut, Channel Orange. There’s an eery resemblance to Jackson’s “Earth Song,” if slightly less cataclysmic. At the very least, with a 9-minute long narrative journey, Ocean embraces the ambition and grandeur of Jackson’s later years. “Pyramids” manages to capture the uncomfortable, slowly crushing tension of a changed relationship.
Ocean‘s profile has been steadily growing over the past year or so. Breaking out as the sensitive (and more long lasting) element of the OFWGKTA crew, Ocean’s Nostaliga, Ultra mixtape foreshadowed an impending force in R&B and the music industry. Having penned songs for artists like Justin Bieber, John Legend and Beyonce, his relationship with Def Jam as an artist improved, and he gained several guest spots on the highly exclusive Watch the Throne album. Now he has a true LP to drop July 17th and a nationwide tour that’s guaranteed to make eyes water and panties drop across the US.
There’s a gap in the market for someone like Frank Ocean to fill, that hasn’t been occupied since the slow fade of R. Kelly. And maybe he’ll never reach the level Michael Jackson did (who can?), but he’s got the experience, talent and grace to solidify his place in music history.