« Dissect

S3E2 – Thinking About You by Frank Ocean

2018-05-29

Our serialized examination of the music of Frank Ocean continues with a look at the cultural impact of Frank’s open letter that revealed his sexuality days before the release of Channel Orange. Then we dissect Ocean’s biggest hit to date “Thinking About You.”

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
From spotify studios, this is dissect long musical analysis broken into short, digestible episode. I'm your host cold kushner two thousand and five, a twenty eight year old, rapper kanye west appeared on mtv news and promotion of his sophomore album late registration rather than remote, is album. He took the opportunity to broadcast nationally and injustice. He saw in hip hop culture like them. You know hip hop, really is about um. It seems like it's about like fighting for your rights in the beginning, about speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers or whatever, but everybody in hip hop discriminates against gay people. To me, like that's one of the standards, a hip hop is to be like yo, you fag, you
If matter of fact, the exact opposite word of hip hop, I think, is get as the interview continues. An off camber producer distracts kanye, causing him to lose his train of thought, but khan is determined to get his message across me. Speak of. For my tire culture me looking at my rap is out there hip hop was discriminate against gay people. They feel like they can act hello once again, a white don't tell me off. I really want to save his own status to america. I wanna, but you must not. He was just on the opposite side arm. I want this to just come on tv and just tell ma rappers distill, mark friends like go stop if an like, like seriously that this
That's really discrimination to me. That's exactly what they used to do to black people. I'll just try to tell people to stop all that. The use of homophobic slurs and hip hop can be traced back to the origins of the genre or the 1970s and early 80s, the first mainstream hip song. The message by grandmaster flash and the fab. Five refers to a homeless lady. As a former quote, fag hag and a man raped in prison, as a quote. Undercover bag, a more overtly homophobic mentality can be found in the dj. Jazzy jeff and the fresh prince is live at union square from their one thousand. Nine hundred and eighty eight triple platinum, album, I'm the rapper he's the dj
All the filthy, stinking nasty people required idaho, boise, god be client all the girls out there. They don't like guys, be quiet displays one of the more forthright attacks on homosexuality.
Last I heard can make this was having sex with the same sex, show no love to homo emptied out below that almost caused by you going explain, fucking a man. Even if response to break my touch it, I don't fuck with jobs. Without the pin a jealous with catholic, the kool aid on his lips and pompoms, I don't fuck with niggas that think they crossed only know how to be one way. As the dollar, the ledger, the rap group, a tribe, called quest, had perhaps the most explicitly homophobic song one thousand nine hundred and ninety one track called georgie porgie. That was in ten to be included on the album low in theory on the track, each mc, takes aim at a character named georgie porgie, a gay black man. I'm going quote some of the lyrics on the track and just as a heads up, it gets pretty explicit. The song opens with dog rhyming quote in the beginning. Where is adam and eve, but some try to make it look like adam and steve. And later saying quote walking in the ville with them dreadlocks, but on the dl
getting done up the butt box. Oh my god, how gross can one be verse? Three find grand puma wrapping quote now: george swung with gays just the way he sways, even fool to with his mom's lingerie come get it girl. Something fears was, is mine even more yes, and on his face he had swine. He a monkey cipher you fucking faggot, couldn't wait for gay parade, so you can drag it. The tract includes with a verse q tip containing such lines, as quote no georgie porgie pudding, pie whoa, you: choose the pass of the gays. Oh, why ain't got no re, then to hell with alibis won't play bass all because your nails, ain't dry, call me a but I know it and you know it you're, filthy and funny to the utmost exponent. Unquote,. The song georgie porgie, was deemed too offensive by tribes record label to include on their album. It was subbed currently rewritten written today. Is the song show business? Of course, a lot of time is passed from nineteen. Ninety one, and it seems
some tribe members have since changed your views. Tribe, leader q, tip, told me in two thousand, and sixteen quote if I come across, something which I definitely do is racism or sexism or homophobia, or moving is a more classism or an elitist. Then you just have to blow the whistle. Even if it's upon myself, even if I fall guilty, you have to be willing to examine it. Unquote, of course, homophobia was and is not limited to hip hop at the time of connie's interview in two thousand and five, only three one percent of american adults favorite same sex marriage, sixty percent said they would be set up their child was gay and there is a near equal split on whether or not homosexuality was morally acceptable, and in genre, music built in large part on invincible, but she's about and cutthroat street credibility, hip hop, obligated, general reputation for being on accepting of homosexuality so much so that high profile, rapper kanye west put his reputation on the line to speak out on national television fast forward now
to two thousand eleven six years after connie's mtv interview emerging artist, frank ocean, was fresh off the release of his critically acclaimed mixtape nostalgia, ultra as performer last episode. The tape transform ocean from a successful, relatively unknown songwriter, infringe member of odd future to a unique golden voice. Solo artist with superstar potential, the music in green fans alike, were waiting. His debut studio, album channel orange. I to discover frank ocean was to live up to the enormous potential displayed on the ultra and on july, tenth, two thousand and twelve, the day channel orange would released digitally the world was set to find out and then six days before that these ocean set the internet on fire. It wasn't a new song, it wasn't a video, it was a simple screen grab of a text, edit document posted on his tumblr page. This document now simply known as the open letter, is a beautiful two paragraph account of oceans. First love
written with the intimacy and honesty of a private journal entry. The big reveal comes halfway through paragraph one quote four summers ago, I met somebody. I was nineteen years old. He was we spent the summer in that summer, after, together every day almost and on the days we were together, time would glide most of the day. I'd see him and his smile and here's conversation and his silence until it was time to sleep sleep, I would often share with him by the time I realized I was in love. It was malignant, it was hopeless. There was no escaping no negotiating with the feeling, no choice. It was my first love and it changed my life. Unquote. The open letter made internet headlines across america, gay rights in the she were increasingly politicized debate points and the general shift towards inclusion occurring
the type of oceans letter in two thousand twelve. There was for the first time more american adults in favor of gay marriage that there were against up nearly twenty percentage points for two thousand. five. The year kanye west spoke out on mtv the moral acceptance homosexuality was rising two up to sixty percent, though far from universal acceptance. It was clear that the tides were beginning to turn and oceans. Letter was seen by many as another step towards progress, specifically in the hip, hop culture. I will not strictly hip hop artist per ocean, was working in the space of urban music and is coming out in the way he did was simply unprecedented when if he worried that publishing the letter would derail his career, frank, told gq quote I had those fears and blah music we've got so many leaps and bounds to make with acceptance and tolerance in regard to that issue and reflect something just ingrained. You know when I was growing up there was nobody in my family, not even my own mother, who I could look too and be like. I know, you've, never said anything. Homophobic
So you know you worry about people in the business you you've heard talk that way. Some of my heroes coming up talk recklessly like that. It's tempting to give those views and words that ignorance more attention than they deserve very tempting in club years later, frank would reveal a story about his father on tumblr, saying quote I was six years old when I heard my dad call are transgender waitress a faggot as he dragged me out. The neighborhood diner saying we wouldn't be served because she was dirty. That was the la afternoon. I saw my father and the first time I heard that word. I think, although it wouldn't shock me if it wasn't unquote,. When we consider the general public perception of homosexuality, it's perception urban, music, specifically and frank's own families- view on the subject. His open letter seems impossible. Ocean said he felt compelled. Publisher, letter ahead of channel orange is release due to a listening party given a few days. Prior there Analysts were privy to hear the album before its release and do to the male pronouns you
some of the songs, some began to spec related about ocean sexuality. He later told gq quote. I was just like fuck it talk about it. Don't talk about it! Talk about this, no more mystery through with that unquote. Frank was getting ahead of the rumors. He didn't want his story written by strangers. He wanted to in his narrative, wanted to express to the his story in his own words his own personal way, like the british rapper to bell beautifully, wrote frank ocean didn't come out. He just let us in the letter was both an altruistic gesture, an act, personal emancipation after being asked to be felt. The letter was courageous, frank told the guardian quote. I don't know a lot, people have said that, since the news came out, I said the percentage of that act was altruism because I was of how I wish that thirteen or fourteen there was somebody I looked up to who would have said something like that could have been transparent in that way,
but there's another side of it. That's just about my own sanity and my ability to feel like I'm living life where I'm not just successful. On paper but sure that I'm happy when I wake up in the morning and not with this freaking boulder on my chest. Unquote, Did the publishing of the letter seemed to be deeply liberating. He told gq quote the night. I posted it. I cried like a fucking baby. It was like all the frequency. Just click to a chain in my head, all the receptors were now receiving a different signal and I was happy. I hadn't been happy in so long, I've been sad again sense, but it's a totally different. Take on sad there's just some magic in truth and honesty, and openness. Unquote like the changing of his name from christopher br to frank ocean, like the independent release of his self funded mixtape nostalgia ultra made in spite of death camps to collect. Open letter is a defining active independence. Is the taking of fate by the throat? Is the writing of his own history, his story, his art?
It seems no coincidence that the letter was published on the fourth of july independence day. One of the things makes oceans letter. So moving is this authenticity and rawness of expression? It wasn't press release, it wasn't a production, it was a subarctic grand reveal exclusive on national television, frank, doesn't even say the word gay in the letter or to sexuality in any concrete way, and this was a calc related decision as he's not one for definition or labels when asked directly by gq. If is bisexual, frank responded quote, you can move to the next question. I'll respectfully say that life is dynamic and comes with dynamic experiences that same sentiment. I have towards genres of music. I have towards a lot of labels, I'm in this business to be created. If I leave and diminish it and say to be a content provider, one of the pieces of content
for sure not giving his porn videos, I'm not a centerfold, I'm not trying to sell you sex people should pay into that in the letter I didn't need to label it for it to have impact, because peep realize everything I say is so relatable, because when you're talking about romantic love both sides in all scenarios feel the same shit as a writer the a creator, I'm giving you my experiences, but just take what I give you. You ain't gotta pry beyond that, I'm giving you what I feel like you can feel the other shit. You can't feel you can't feel a box. You can't feel label, don't get caught up in that shit. There's so much something in life. Don't get caught up in the nothing that shit is knuth You know it's nothing banish the fear. Unquote. This is an extremely important point. One that's going to former analysis of frank oceans, music, the season we're going to reese. His wishes were not go, evaluate him as a gay artist. We're not going
evaluate his music as game music, we're going to evaluate frank ocean as a human being, a human being, who feels just like everyone else. What does sexual preference have to do with feeling? Feelings are universal and great art evokes feeling tiger eyes feeling is to reduce its universality. Like frank said, you can't feel a label, and so we won't label, we won't categorize. We certainly won't judge. Rather, what we'll do instead is listen and so what further ado? Let's dissect, a tornado flew around my thinking about you, frank ocean's, debut album, channel orange release, digitally on july tenth, two thousand and twelve, with physical c he's releasing a week later, to create channel orange frank collaborated closely with james ryan, hello, aka.
hey, I producer songwriter, who has credits on all, but one song on channel orange ocean in play wrote the album over the course of two weeks in february of twenty eleven yes heard that right, the majority of channel orange was written in just two weeks, once the The process was complete, frank, ordered the songs as they appear on the album today, over a year before its release. He then recorded the vocals alone in track order over the course of nine months. Malay said quote: this is how diligent this dude is. As far as his work ethic, he went in and vocals for, like nine months, like intense recording and being a perfectionist, the dude really takes it super seriously, but he recorded them in order of how they are on the record, then we got back together once the vocals were complete on the production in we did the same thing. We went back in and re worked, but we did it all in order of the record like how it is
Now, a conceptually channel orange is nostalgia, ultra orchards, kindred spirit or ultras framework, with the cassette tape being skip through and played channel orange centers around the television with frank flipping channels throughout the album. The songs themselves play like cinematic stories of his life and the lives of others. We also and similarities between the stalls, all channel or just cover. Our each project contains word titles placed approximately in same position on the front cover both written in the same to fonts. Both projects artwork also prominently feature. The color orange a color that to ocean is extremely significant. Ocean has been on record stating he has grapheme color synesthesia, which is a neurological phenomenon of seeing letters and numbers and colors people with certain types of synesthesia also associate colors with sounds and memories weeks before channel orange, released and just days before, it's open letter ocean posted on tumblr, quote orange reminds me of the summer. I first fell in love. Unquote.
Of course, we know from his open letter that his first love occurred in the summer when he was nineteen years old and that it was a defining time in his life based on his own words. We can safely assume Orange is the color that symbolizes that summer, those feelings, those memories of course, chan. Or just cover. Our is flooded entirely with the color orange, specifically the color hex f f, nostalgia. Orchards, artwork features an orange bmw e three, which is been oceans. Stream car since he was a teenager. We might speculate that uh orange. Was you symbolically here, as well as his dream? Car is not unlike his dream partner summer. something he fantasizes about and longs for, like the cassette tape, introduction of nostalgia, ultra channel oranges, cryptic opening skit start sets the album in its television based environment. It begins with candid laughter and vaguely audible voices if you listen close enough You can hear one male voice say they look like twins while laughing, which is followed by
distant sound of the original iphone text message. Another male voice then says that was embarrassing and then a seconds in the sonic environment changes abruptly. We hear someone breathing as if can suddenly. Next, we hear footsteps followed by the sound of the television being turned on
you could tell by the sound. The television makes that it's an older analog tv, not a modern, digital flat screen. Next, we hear the sound of an original sony, playstation being booted up, which is then followed by the sounds of street fighter. Two. The iconic immensely popular head to head fighting video game that seemingly every kid in the 1990s grew up playing, this introduction, as a you interesting parallels with nist alja ultras opening sequence, though, if you'll remember, we heard sounds of a cassette tape being fast forwarded, rewound and played the song strong very swing then follows where frank dreams fondly about childhood and love. He's then woken by an alarm clock, followed by a deep sigh which then leads into the rest of the album channel orange is introduction, is almost like a truncated version of the sequence. We here, two boys laughing and talking
just kind of hanging out and having a good time in each other's company. It goes in the ambient background noise make this setting feel dreamlike like a memory being remembered frank, is in awoken. Size turns on the tv and begins to play street fighter. It should be no. The nist alja ultras opening track is titled just that street fighter, which seems like a conscious, detail that hints at the two projects relationship another interesting detail, is the sound of that text. Message in the opening dreamer memory. This steer incoming sms or text message sound for the original iphone, which was this in the summer of two thousand and seven as we know from tumblr channel orange is in part about or inspired by the summer he first fell in love, frank stated in opening letter that he was nineteen then and having been born in october of ninety, maybe seven frank, would have been nineteen in the summer of two thousand and seven the same summer that the original iphone was released from the information we've gathered. We may speculate that the opening
sequence of channel orange is a depiction of a dream or memory frank is having about he and his first love. It makes sense, then, that the next track is titled. Thinking about you and I'm thinking about you who no no, no I've been thinking about. You should not no, no I've been thinking about you. Do you think about mister? Do you do you thinking about he was easily frank's, most commercially successful song to date, the details of which will thoroughly dive into right after the break play? Coco soundtrack on spotify? That's my daughter mabel. She just three and she's already the maestro music in our house. Thanks to sonos the news, us one. Smart speaker has amazon alexa, voice, control, built right in so using just your voice, you can do all kinds of cool things like check. The way
start, timers order, products from amazon and, of course, stream. Your favorite music play. Listen podcasts on spotify alexa, become the new aux cord in my home and me, and made take turns playing our favorite champs alexa play beer, cratic on spotify play cardi b on spotify, there's now more music playing in my house than ever before, which I really love. I put so one speakers in nearly every room which makes it super easy for me and mabel to listen to music together anywhere in the house, because the sun one is moisture resistant. I even put one in the bath, so we can listen to music while maple takes her nightly bath. Naturally, her face bath time song at the moment is drip by cardi b or she says party bead visit sonos dot com to learn more and use promo code dissect, ten
receive ten percent off one order of two thousand five hundred dollars or less limited time offer cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions. That's so s, o n, o s, dot com, promo code, dissect, one zero! Welcome back to dissect before the break we cover channel orange's opening track start a cryptic skit that leads directly into the album's first song, thinking about you thinking about you was channel or just first official single and easily oceans, most commercially successful song to date, with over two hundred, forty two million streams on spotify alone, the song, originally written by frank for the artist bridget kelly, whose rendition thinking of forever appeared on our two thousand and eleven. Every girl
before you came excuse the mess it made. It usually doesn't rain in southern california, much like arizona. My ass abduction tears before the board. When I'm thinking about you all, no, no, no I've been thinking about you, you know know, know franks reference track for this song leaked on the internet and the song soon became associated with frank's rendition late there reworked and remastered version was released as the first official single from channel orange thinking about you is, produced by shay taylor with image need the song comprised of a drum loop basin, electric keyboard, with string guitar entering later in the track, the songs, minimal production, oceans, lyricism and invoice center stage, where it displays and vocal range. Although somewhat brief, the songs versus shop, oceans, aptness for cryptic detailed, lyricism and symbolic imagery,
a tornado flew around my room before you came excuse the mess it made, it usually doesn't rain in southern california, much like arizona. My ass don't shed tears, but buddy bob, and I'm thinking about you who know know, know frank sings. A toy nato flew around my room before you came, excuse the mess it made of usually doesn't rain in southern california. Much like arizona my eyes, don't shed tears but boy they pour when I'm thinking about you, frank blames it tornado for his messy room, which we might assume represents his mess of a life in general. We know a tornado didn't actually fall upon his room. And this is just the first of many outlandish lies frank- will tell his love on the song. The line Usually doesn't rain in southern california seems to make reference to the nine seventy two song. It never rains in southern california by john hammond. The song-
the story about an aspiring musician who moved to los angeles to pursue his dream only to fail miserably and and hammond song. Rain is used to represent unhappiness and disappointment. it never rains in southern california The naive mentality and youthful optimism of moving to the fictitious wonderland of los angeles, the musician finds out that it does indeed rain quite heavily in la represent his failed dreams to make it as a musician on the songs hook, hammond sings it never rains in california, but girl, don't they warn ya it pours.
Compare that to ocean singing. I usually doesn't rain in southern california, my eyes don't shed tears but boy they pour when I'm thinking about you These passages seem too similar to be mere coincidence and where hammond says but girl, don't they warn ya, it pours frank, says but boy they pour. This could be a deliver. Reference to his first love as expressing his open letter or the program was changed because the song was originally intended for bridget kelly, the story, an aspiring musician told on hammond song, is also similar to frank's on personal story. As we know, he move to southern california to pursue a music career. When we recognize this, I wonder whether or not that tornado frank song about alludes to hurricane katrina, the incident that definitely let frank moving to southern california in any case first establishes a character. That is obviously a wreck. Making excuses to justify mess of his life and is deeply saddened that he and his law.
Interest are no longer together in verse, two, the lies get even more grandiose. Just no! I don't like you. I just thought you were cool enough to kick. It gotta be chow soccer. So you when idaho, since you think I don't love you, I just thought you were cute. That's why I kiss you got a fighter jet. I don't get to fly it though I'm lying down. Thinking about you who know know know. This second makes use of a clever rhetorical structure, frank states, his feelings and fall with an obvious lie which is used to suggest, it is stated: feelings are also a lie. He sings. No, I don't like you, I just thought you were cool enough to kick. It got beach house. I could sell you in idaho. Franks claims. Not to like this purse ours fraudulent is someone selling nonexistent ocean front property in idaho, like the john hammond reference in the first verse, this rhetorical tool be a reference to an older song. This time it's george strait's ocean, front property. A
for one hit in the 1980s is that on love you now fueled by then I got so bush from property arrows on my front porch. You can see the see I got. Some great song uses the same rhetorical tool as oceans. Thinking about you in this versus straight claims, he went and mrs girl, if she ever left and leave the every hook with the line. I don't love you now. If you buy that, I got some oceanfront property in arizona, interesting lee arizona was referenced in verse. One of thinking about you, adding to our long list of small, interconnected details were discovering. This deceptively do wants. Lyric sheet should continue first to singing. Since you think I don't love you, I just thought you were cute. That's why I kissed you got a fighter jet. I don't get to fly it
again. Another lie about his feelings, followed by a outlandish lie about owning a fighter jet cleverly frank ends. First, with the line I'm lying down. Thinking about you, I'm lying down of course sounds a lot like I'm lying now. Both of the song verses are followed by the songs hook, which reveals frank's, true feelings about his love. Thinking about billion thing, frank sings, I've been thinking about you. Do you think about me still, or do you not think so far ahead, because I've been thinking about for never based on everything we know the song so far we might have
the two had some kind of past relationship that no longer exists implied by the still in the line. Do you think about me still, but it's clear that franks victor values, whatever that relationship was much more as we heard both verses he's insecure about his feelings, tries to downplay them only to call out the listen of those claims by surrounding them with extravagant lies. All the songs, bridge, frank's character is more straightforward about his feelings, snapping
song into place. Yes, of course, I remember. Can I forget her doofy? How do you know you are my first time a new views ever never gator, not amazon spirit. Keep it alive will go down this road till it says from keller, black and white, frank sings. Yes, of course, I remember how could I forget how you feel
You know you are my first time a new feel it won't ever get old, not my soul, not my spirit. Keep it alive will go down this road till it turns from color to black and white. It's here that the real beauty of the song reveals itself frankie acknowledges that the other person doesn't reciprocate his feelings, but by quote thinking about you, frank keeps the ethereal essence of their relationship alive. He aligns to feelings of the past, remembers them in the present which ensures their existence in the future. That's timelessness, that's eternal transcendence, that's forever and as he says this is quote a new feel. Well ever get old, not my soul, not my spirit. Keep it alive. The feeling is now permanently integrated in his soul. Now, apart, oven in sep people from who he is, it's really
beautiful sentiment. Much like the memories of our deceased loved ones, keep them alive in a very real and significant way. Frank's memory of this person and his feelings when they are together keep them alive, often in life. There's a temptation to try and forget our unrequited or failed loves, as the memories often come with feelings of hurt in security, resentment or any number of discomfort emotions are thinking about, you, frank displays a kind of pureness in his appreciation for the feeling being able to exist at all. He distills this billings into a singular sanguine strain of emotional dna. It's a feeling, he'll keep forever, that he'll cherish forever forever, a part of who he is, and for that he seems thankful again. We turn to frank's open letter quote thanks to my first love, I'm grateful for you grateful that, even though it wasn't what I hoped for, and even though it was never enough, it was some.
Things never are, and we were. I won't forget you unquote. Th thinking about you is a beautiful start to a beautiful album, like nostalgia, ultra zone, sing, song strawberry swing. Thinking about you, open channel orange with the magic of memory, the warmth of nostalgia and the beautifully tragic and transcendent potential of love- I was thinking about you. Frank ocean is just getting started. He'll continue to flip the television that is his imagination on channel orange, which will continue explore an incredible detail next on monday, so dissect is written and produced by me additional projects support by spotify's michelle santucci original theme, music by bureaucratic. Remember when you live.
to dissect on spotify. You get new episodes a week before all other platforms, as well as says exclusive bonus episodes only available on spotify. On this week, napa episode, you can hear frank's open letter read in full, follow at dissect, podcast on twitter and instagram follow the official dissect spotify user profile for playlist curated by me, as well as collaborative playlist. You can contribute to you could that by searching dissect pod playlists in spotify. Also, I wanted to recommend to you a podcast. I love called twenty thousand hertz. It's a podcast that reeve the stories behind the world's most recognizable interesting sounds recent. They did a show on music that you should start with here's a clip that gave us a lot more than just the genre of easy listening music introduce The idea that music was to occupy an influence. Public spaces is a lot of frankly spyrius research which purports.
show that we will love music everywhere. We, unlike the easy listing of muzak's heyday music in public spaces. Today, is often Faster and louder restaurant viewers who to measure and list noise in the reviews are reporting levels above seventy and even eighty decibels. Those levels can us hearing loss over time. Twenty thousand. This is a super highly polished, show and every episode. It is fascinating search, twenty thousand hertz, which is spelled out without numbers, on spotify or wherever you listen. Okay, thanks. You guys I'll talk to you next week,.