The most contentious thread woven into the recent sexuality “outing” of R&B fresh face Frank Ocean is his past involvement with Odd Future. Here’s a young West Coast collective of MCs who’ve been known to sling misogynistic and homophobic slurs to puzzling excess. Member Tyler, The Creator dropped ‘faggot’ 213 times on his record Goblin. Why would an equally young man pondering the depths of his sexuality and society’s conceptions of it enter the potential realm of bigotry?
Now no one’s calling anyone a bigot, here. But the point is that lyrics have unforeseen weights that mean entirely different things to entirely different people. Tyler, The Creator, for instance told NME a ways back he believes ‘gay’ is defined as ‘stupid’. Now add into the mix the use of pronouns and characters, as with Ocean’s forthcoming first studio album Channel Orange, and a song that could possibly allude to Ocean’s Tumblr confessional of sorts dubbed “Bad Religion,” that the New York Times‘ Joe Caramanica dutifully previewed out:
This unrequited love
To me it’s nothing but a one-man cult
And cyanide in my styrofoam cup
I could never make him love me
Never make him love me
Just because ‘him’ is in the same verse and context of ‘love’, does that mean that Ocean is referencing himself? Or referencing an all male relationship at all? He could be writing from a female character’s point-of-view. ‘Me’ could be f-ing America, personified via any gender you want and ‘him’ could be the sun. It wouldn’t make a whole lot of direct sense. But hey, what would song lyrics be without a bevy of interpretations? We’d be out of a job, for one. And two, love would be incredibly boring. So here’s to Ocean for reminding a couple sub-genres for a hot minute that it can be whatever the hell it wants to be, rather than focus on his sexuality. All said, what’s your favorite Ocean lyric?