I've had an aversion to OFWGKTA out of principle. My theory is that they would make great ad men, or movie directors, PR consultants or hype men, but I'm sick of seeing all my brother's (though luckily not my brother himself) walking around shouting 'Fuck school' and then crying when they get into a fight and get an internal exclusion. This had resulted in me completely skipping Frank Ocean's nostalgia/ULTRA first time round, although I heard great things about it hitting me from all directions, but yesterday I had a change of heart and downloaded it - and now I'm feeling the Amanda Bynes does around black guys. I'm very attracted to this mixtape just fyi.
After the intro 'Street Fighter,' follows a decent cover of one of my least favourite bands' tracks ever, Coldplay's 'Strawberry Swing'. If you cover something by Coldplay and I don't describe it as a piece of shit that makes me lose my faith in humanity, you've probably done a decent job. Getting rid of Chris Martin's vocals that are still in this version would help a lot.
Next is the stand-out 'Novocane,' a haunting, melancholy ode to a Z-Trip fan who had to compromise her desire to pay for dentistry school with doing porn and tripping balls on substances she's had to nick from class. I'm probably not exaggerating too much to say it reminds me of T.S Eliot's poetry with its feeling of isolation and emphasis on feeling numb and disconnected.
Another one of my favourite tracks on the mixtape is undoubtedly 'We All Try.' The pragmatic approach to faith that hits hard throughout the song will appeal to even the most strident secularists. The social commentary is incredibly refreshing and liberal, particularly for the often homophobic and misogynist genre of hip hop. As much as I've had my aversion to OF, I did appreciate the fact they embrace Syd tha Kyd - both gay and female - with open arms. Frank believes 'Marriage isn't/Between a man and woman but between love and love,' and 'That a woman's temple/Gives her the right to choose.'
'Songs for Women,' is a funky track that embodies teenage insecurity and romance and the steps you take in learning how to deal with courtship, as well as the rivalries and unwritten rules this can generate.
'Swim Good' is another particularly good track, discussing suicide by driving into the ocean (perhaps a metaphorical one) and swimming away from 'something bigger than me.' Maybe it seems like the easier option at this point.
nostalgia/ULTRA is a careful, yet not overdone soulful mixtape, encompassing the trials and tribulations of love, sex, drugs, religion, politics and the American dream - whatever that is. Discoveries like this are exactly why I've decided to start this feature.
Stand out tracks: Novacane, Swim Good, We All Try, American Wedding.