Tag Archives: love

nostalgia, ULTRA. mixtape by Frank Ocean

In light of recent events surrounding hip-hop and R&B artist Frank Ocean, I was inspired to check out his 2011 mixtape, nostalgia, ULTRA.  A member of the alternative rap collective Odd Future, Frank Ocean possesses a nice voice that adds some tenderness and emotion to the otherwise hard, gritty stylings of Odd Future (this being said–I haven’t listened to much of their music).  Having heard Tyler the Creator and witnessing his music video for “Yonkers,” I decided I am hesitant (and terrified) to listen further.  Outside of Odd Future, Frank Ocean made a few appearances on Jay-Z and Kanye’s “Watch the Throne,” adding some great choral melodies on his tracks.  Ocean recently posted an open letter on Tumblr describing his first life-changing love, which happened to be with another man.  Many wonder how this will impact the climate of the often regarded homophobic nature of the hip-hop community.  In any case, Frank Ocean’s debut studio album was recently released early on iTunes and I wanted to get a gauge by which to compare his new material (some context outside of his recent “coming out.”)

Overall, I was very impressed with ‘nostalgia, ULTRA.’  The record feels like more than a mixtape, from the production value to the quality of the lyrics and melodies.  I think that Frank Ocean’s real strength lies in his storytelling ability.  I absolutely love his spin on ‘Strawberry Swing,’ primarily for the story and the message of the song.  Taking music from alternative music giants like Coldplay and MGMT shows his appreciation for and understanding of various genres.  For this reason I was reminded of Kid Cudi or B.o.B, paired with the delivery style of a more soulful Drake.

For the most part ‘nostalgia, ULTRA.’ is a cohesive, complete experience.  I feel that one or two of the tracks were noticeably less strong than the rest (i.e. ‘Songs For Women’).  Less strong, however, does not mean these songs aren’t worth listening to or filler for the album.  My biggest gripe with the mixtape are the brief intermission tracks named for various old-school video games.  They do not really add anything to the record, and I don’t really understand their significance.

When it comes down to it, this is a catchy and well-constructed mixtape that proves Frank Ocean is a talented artist.  I think that his coming out as a bisexual or homosexual man was a positive, brave move (especially in the world of hip-hop), and I think bringing this to the public’s attention will attract new fans and bring support to the release of ‘channel ORANGE.’  I am going to wrap up this post with the most meaningful track off his new album: ‘Bad Religion.’

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Finding Love: My Musical Journey

Music has long been a huge part of my life.  Around the time I hit puberty and started thinking more about girls, music helped me sort out and identify my emotions.  I can still recall the artists, albums, and songs I listened to as relationships emerged or fell apart.  While the music might not have always been of the highest quality (see: Nick Lachey), it could easily be paired with the way I was feeling.

As much as I loved and needed music, I never studied or learned how to analyze or create it.  Though there are exceptions to the rule, I tend to believe in the sports-music dichotomy: at a young age one tends to choose between the two.  In my case, I took the athletic route.  I studied Tae Kwon Do, played competitive soccer, excelled in basketball, and earned All-League honors on my high school tennis team.  At the time, I was never encouraged to pursue music.  It just didn’t seem to be written in my DNA.

After finishing my degree at UC Davis, I came back home to begin my life as an adult.  It turned out to be one of the most difficult times of my life.  Many factors contributed to serious anxiety and hopelessness, including unemployment and the end of my first serious relationship.  Slowly, I was able to pull myself out of the darkness.  I made some key life changes and channeled my energy and emotion into a newfound hobby.

In January of 2010 I began playing guitar.  At first, it was a real struggle.  I couldn’t seem to figure anything out, and at times I would get frustrated.  All I wanted to do was recreate some of the beautiful music that I loved so much.  With practice, I could play simple chords and piece together popular, identifiable songs.  I was proud of myself, and with this improvement came the desire to create something that I could call my own.  From the fire of pent up emotion that I had stored within myself rose the ash of artistic expression.  I began writing very cheesy songs with honest lyrics and simple chord progressions.  While I couldn’t sing, I decided it didn’t really matter.  It was always my goal to “not sound terrible.”

Over time, I compiled a number of songs.  Some were better than others, but all tracked my emotional growth.  At one point in early February of 2011 I wrote a song called “Love is a Hoax.”  As the title indicates, I was distraught with the direction my love life was headed–nowhere.  I had been actively using a few different online dating sites for nearly a year with no success.  I was unhappy and on the verge of giving up.

Then, miraculously, she entered my life.  Browsing one of the aforementioned dating sites, I came across a familiar face.  I couldn’t place where I had seen her before, but immediately sent a message to find out.  As it turned out, we had been in the same kindergarten class.  The memory of her adorable five-year-old class picture flashed into my mind, and I couldn’t believe the odds.  She responded to my initial message and we began to ‘catch up’ on a regular basis.

I tend to be on the cautious side and I have never been particularly skilled in the art of charming women.  Nonetheless, I decided early on this was a girl worth taking risks for.  I quickly weaseled my way into her plans, meeting up for a walk at a local park that we both frequented.  She was easy to talk to, gorgeous, and seemingly out of my league.  When I found out she was a true blue Golden State Warriors fan (a hard thing to find), I concluded that she was truly something special.

This was on a Monday. On Wednesday we played tennis (she put me to shame and had me racing all over the court) and ate dinner.  I still remember her telling me some sort of story involving one of her students farting, and it had me cracking up.  That Friday we saw a movie (Unknown with Liam Neeson) and ate some food while we watched the Warriors get their asses handed to them by the Hawks.  I drove her home and we shared our first kiss when I walked her to the door.  We spent the next day in San Francisco, and I will never forget laying on the grass in the Yerba Buena Gardens looking up at the city skyline.  I knew at that moment that I had found something remarkable.

I think one of the scariest things out there is telling someone ‘I love you.’  A few months into the relationship I knew that I felt love and desperately wanted to tell her.  Unfortunately, fear had the best of me and I postponed the occasion for a good one or two months.  I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to turn my car around after leaving her house, just so that I could make it known to her in a big romantic gesture.  I channeled this love into perhaps the most meaningful song that I’ve written, ‘Something Unsaid.’  While eventually I was able to tell her and it ended up enhancing our relationship tenfold, I’ll never forgot composing this song. We’ve been together for nearly ten months now.  I’m so lucky that I can wake up everyday knowing that I have her in my life.

“I was lost and lonely on a mixed up ride; But since I met you I’ve felt so much inside; The other night I left something unsaid; So here it goes in this song instead, I love you”

http://www.youtube.com/user/micfeeno/videos

http://www.youtube.com/user/soccer3playa88/videos

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