As I told you in the welcoming of Hello World, “this blog is for the uninhibited, the unabashed but definitely for the faint of heart,” so let’s come out the gate swinging. Now I know some of you may be wondering what are True Lies? Well you know exactly what they are but for those of you still a little slow on the uptake, it those loosely told truths that skate the line of prevarication. The answer to questions that are as vague as possible, to say absolutely nothing but appear to say a lot without providing any detail. Yes those are True Lies! Now the question of importance that you should be asking yourselves is what could that possibly have to do with anything that I could post about? Well I want to discuss and explore its significance in music focusing on the major revelation recently by Frank Ocean. Frank Ocean, front man for controversial group Odd Future, announced on the day of American Freedom (July 4th) via an open letter that he was indeed a bi-sexual man. We are not going to discuss or judge the complexity of the moral implications of homosexuality but rather the truth of his sexuality, will it have an effect on his success.
Music like the entire world has been engrossed in homosexuality since the beginning of time. However, due to ignorance and bigotry, homosexuality operates on a dont ask, dont tell policy. Some of the greatest artist, composers, musicians, writers are and their sexuality has no effect on their genius, their gift. Yet we dont want to know and in the cases where we do want to know, marketing and the powers that be tell us that we dont want to know and homosexuality is a blight on mankind. This unspoken fact is ironic because music thrives on authenticity. Hip Hop is built on being “real” and if your realness is proven anything less than you’re career can end. If you need a reference point let’s remember the life and career of one Jeffery “Ja Rule” Adkins. R&B is not as bad, in my opinion, as Hip Hop but you still have to sell an image and for men they are to be a sex symbol to women and for women to men. The legendary Luther Vandross was homosexual but still sold the heterosexual lifestyle for sales. Pop culture has Elton John and the list goes on…
In the case of Frank Ocean, he has not yet released his debut album, still building a strong foundation and fan base and learning and maneuvering the industry. Yes his mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra,” his many features with the who’s who of urban music and various songwriting credits show that he is a very talented artist. However, we as a society are not the most accepting of things different. Are we ready to rally behind and champion and openly bi sexual artist? If we are now in that position why is it that artist like Queen Latifah, Kanye West, Missy Elliott, Tank and Da Brat (just to name a few – allegedly) are homosexual/bisexual and we dont embrace them where they can be open with it, if they chose to? We blackball and alienate people for so much less.
Could it be that Mr. Ocean aware of this and in fact a pure genius and sees the marketing ploy and cash potential in outing himself as a member of the gay community to deflect and possibly even quash and thought that his group is homophobic. Is it possible to have a homophobic group when at least half of the group is openly/privately homosexual? Is it irrelevant if the other members are homosexual because in the grand scheme of things they are unknown nobodies? Does Frank now become the universal champion of gay rights and have their undying support? Now his material is great lyrical and sonic content that is anything but offensive and this differs from some of the material that his counterparts pop out. But could he do it? If he’s successful will that cause labels to embrace their homosexual artist and encourage them to out themselves or will they just scout for homosexual talent?
The reality of the matter is this, he may be successful because he is filling a void that music is missing but truthfully this is going to make his journey and career even harder. The truth is we support Frank. The true lie is that the machine is not going to give him the push that he deserves because he decide to liberate himself. In addition to that, they are clueless on how to market that type of artist and why lose money trying to get it right. Id be lying to say that as of this moment, with the body of work Frank Ocean has produced he is definitely the truth.
Make sure you go cop Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” on July 17th.