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Thursday, June 08, 2023

Frank Ocean returns with ‘Chanel,’ a way to hold on and let go at the same time

There is something about sexuality that will never stop talking. It carries itself on the streets of Amsterdam or in the crude parts of Berlin. Sexuality is a two-sided mirror in rotation. It fits in some spaces better than others. It shifts with the seasons and pulls back like a rubber band. It cuts much sharper than a knife and, for artists like Frank Ocean, “I got two versions” is only a surface tattoo for his music.

To think of the body as indestructible would be simple if we didn’t find the interference of the mind and heart to take over. Suggesting that we are our strongest when we are alone has also proven that, ultimately, we can still find warmth in the most numbing places. Making gods out of some humans has been a downfall in the search of love; a love that overthinks is a step ahead and a few feelings behind. For Frank Ocean, “Chanel” speaks to both sides of the enemy.

Frank Ocean’s “Chanel” is his first solo track since his critically reviewed double release, Blonde and Endless, in August 2016. Ocean premiered the new track during his second “blonded RADIO” Beats 1 Radio Show on Apple Music. A second version of “Chanel” featuring A$AP Rocky has also been released, rhythmically infusing his own struggle with faithful relationships–“Such a good guy to Chanel, until she caught me sleeping with Sharell.”

The element of surprise is getting dressed up for a cheap drink that turns out being worth the money. Ocean’s quick release of new music serves all the mental nights of bitter honesty on a burning platter. “My guy pretty like a girl,” Ocean states in the opening track. He quickly goes on to question the idea of holding dominance in a relationship with another man or one that appears to be “manly”– “Got one that’s straight acting / Turnt out like some dirty plastic [Ride].”

Like many, including myself, when you know someone is lying, you let them air themselves out, all the while keeping their dispositions in tact. Like Ocean does expertly on the persuasive hook, “I see both sides like Chanel” rings like a warning or a goodbye too abrupt to save. As you grow older and deeper into the inner self, Ocean’s elaborate word play speaks on hustling and figuring out what truly matters, at least for this moment, or the paycheck. He states, “Sleet snow grind for the wealth / Whole team diamonds is real / Showed ‘em how to shine by they-selves.”

Love exists in the scariest of places. As Ocean debates between two separate worlds and a relationship, or at least a dance with a woman, he proclaims, “I need a bitch to grind on my belt / I know you seen it driving itself.”

Frank Ocean continues a successful narrative of love and struggle. With an unexpected single released this soon, we could only hope that the music is healing us, and him too.

Below you can listen to the “Chanel” remix featuring A$AP Rocky, the eponymous Chanel brand logo, and another cover photo with “Chanel” lyrics posted by Frank Ocean on his tumblr.

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