So while you all were enjoying your burnt hot dogs and busting illegal fireworks outside of my window at exactly 1:24 a.m., Frank Ocean celebrated his independence after publicly revealing that he’d had a romantic relationship with another man and was bisexual.
In a very heartfelt and beautifully written letter posted Wednesday morning on his Tumblr page, Ocean sought to clarify the rumors that a few of the love ballads on his soon to be released debut album, entitled Channel Orange, were intended for a male love interest. In the letter, Ocean writes:
“4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Every day almost, and on the day we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. 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, it changed my life.”
Ocean went on to say that he thought about the women he had been with and thought he was in love with and the love songs he listened to and “realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak.” Ocean wrote in his closing. “I feel like a free man. If I listen closely. I can hear the sky falling too.”
One of the first Hip-Hop community insiders to speak on the matter was Russell Simmons, who wrote on Global Grind, “Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we? I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean….”
Others outside the Hip-Hop community are speculating about what impact his announcement will have on his career including questions about how the genre and its fans, which are said to be notoriously homophobic, will react to his lifestyle. But within this mix of congratulatory pats on the back and questions about what the future holds for the singer/songwriter/rapper, there is a certain level of incongruity in his declaration of sexual freedom and what Frank Ocean represents.
Ocean, who is probably most known on the R&B front for the hit song “Novacane” and for appearing with Jay-Z and Kanye West as one of the few features on Watch the Throne, is a part of the collective, Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All, or OFWGKTA, an alternative, suburban black skater boy/girl rap group, known for saying some pretty outlandish stuff. And when I say outlandish, that includes lacing their lyrics with the kind of homophobic, anti-black and female debasement glee that could probably make Lil’ Wayne blush (maybe that’s why he’s a fan). The leader and co-founder of this clique is Tyler the Creator, who uses multiple personas to exhibit his creativity as well as his angst. One such alter-ego is Wolf Haley, a white ginger (e.g. red-haired) kid, whom he said that he always wanted to be. It may be this persona, which causes him to refer to himself as a self-racist or to use his Twitter feed and rhymes as platforms for anti-gay slurs and references. And when he is not calling people f****ts or even berating himself, his targets include veteran female emcees such as Rah Digga, who he once called a dude, and MC Lyte, who he called a “dyke.”