If You Want to Buy Frank Ocean’s Album, Don’t Go to Target

Yesterday, Odd Future tour manager Christian Clancy dropped some surprising news on Twitter. In a tweet that he eventually deleted, he wrote, “Target has refused to carry Franks album due to iTunes exclusive. Interesting since they also donate to non equal rights organizations.” Not surprsingly, the retail giant has found itself the center of some controversy.

The knee-jerk reaction, as Clancy described it in a later tweet, was understandable, but Target insists that the decision to avoid selling Ocean’s stellar debut album, Channel Orange, has nothing to do with his coming out last week. In a statement, the chain’s spokesperson clarified:

At Target, we focus on offering our guests a wide assortment of physical CDs, so our selection of new releases is dedicated to physical CDs rather than titles that are realized digitally in advance of the street date…The claims made about Target’s decision to not carry the Frank Ocean album are absolutely false. Target supports inclusivity and diversity in every aspect of our business. Our assortment decisions are based on a number of factors, including guest demand. Target has a longstanding tradition of supporting music and artistry that reflects the diverse landscape of American culture.

Sorry, moms! Looks like you’ll have to get your kids to teach you how to download things on iTunes after all or, you know, go to some big-box bookstore chain and pay sixteen bucks for that physical CD. 

What to Think of Odd Future’s Homophobia After Frank Ocean’s Coming Out

In the early hours of July 4th, Odd Future member Frank Ocean came out on his personal blog with the story about falling in love with a man four summers ago. His bravery was met with positive reactions from the hip-hop community, including Russell Simmons, who lauded the young singer-songwriter for his honesty. He also received a nice response from Odd Future frontman (I suppose?) Tyler, the Creator, who posted on Twitter, "My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That. Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. I’m A Toilet." A very emphatic statement!

Days later, of course, it has become time to spark a discussion about what this means for Tyler, the Creator. The rapper, as well as the Odd Future collective as a whole, came under much scrutiny last year for their misogynist and homophobic lyrics, which were often coupled with violent rhetoric. (This is where I come clean and admit that I’ve never taken much time to listen to any of Odd Future’s various members’ music except for Frank Ocean.) It’s particularly unsettling as Frank Ocean has come out (as what, that is, is unclear, as he has not specified if he identifies as gay or bisexual), and considering Odd Future producer and DJ Syd tha Kid is a lesbian.

So, is it fair to call Odd Future a homophobic rap collective? Tyler, the Creator claims he is not homophobic at all:

Chatting to a fan on social media website Formspring, he wrote: "hahaha yeah, ive know for a while, he told me a long time ago. it was just funny cause i was getting bashed as a homophobe or whatever and i kept saying dude how am i one? i have gay friends like what the fuck leave me alone haha. yeah thats my nigga tho, shit is hard for him but he did that."

To be clear, Tyler was labeled a homophobe for his repeated use of various gay slurs on his debut album, Goblin—231 times, to be exact

Former BlackBook editor and current Observer writer Foster Kamer posits, via his personal Tumblr,  that Tyler’s frequent use of "faggot" and its variants do not, inherently, make him a homophobic artist, nor does it mean one can toss the same criticism to Odd Future as a whole:

Besides all of the wonderful things that will come out of Frank Ocean’s “outing” himself—or whathaveyou—the idea that labeling Odd Future as a homophobic collective just became more complex and frustrating to people who are fans of oversimplifying complex issues as a matter of making an argument (but really: jumping onto whatever outrage bandwagon is getting “liked” on Tumblr more than others on any particular week) is also a particularly delightful one. The world needs more nuance. It needs to frustrate our most simple thinkers (who have the loudest, angriest voices, as is often the case). And those people should be upset more often, and more often they should be upset by evolving realities like this one: That, in the entirety of rap—or hip hop as a culture—Odd Future has had the most success commensurate with the fact that their DJ is a gay woman, and their most arguably famous member is a bisexual man, while also being one of the most maligned groups for their ostensibly homophobic and misogynistic music. That’s a reality worth savoring.

It’s an interesting and complex thought, for sure, but I’m not sure I buy it. Tyler, the Creator can now claim that he’s not homophobic—two of his best friends and colleagues are not straight!—but that sort of claim is, as we all know, bullshit. That’s a very definitive response that any non-straight person can make. As a gay man who grew up in a rural town in Virginia, there’s a lot of my personal life that I do not share with friends and family back home. I’m certainly out and open, and most people know about it and accept it! But that doesn’t mean I don’t get incredibly uncomfortable when I am around people who casually make homophobic remarks. (And don’t get me started on the casual racism, because oof.)

Basically, intolerance runs deep, and it’s not always a blatant thing. But I know that even if one of my very close friends was expressing him or herself with homophobic language, I would feel uncomfortable and hurt, mostly because I make it my beeswax to not be around people who toss around "faggot." So, in the end, if Odd Future members continue to do so, I (and plenty of other people) will continue to combat it with the word "homophobic." In all honestly, I get the vibe that Tyler, the Creator likes the attention that comes from being aggressive—he is a performer, after all, and getting attention is his job. But there’s no need for the hateful and violent language, and considering that two members of Odd Future—a minority, for certain—do not identiy as straight… Well, that is certainly a complicated problem, isn’t it?

Frank Ocean Comes Out, Reveals Falling in Love With a Man

Happy Birthday, America! Usually I would be offline today, as it is Independence Day and I can live independently without the stupid old internet, but I happened to log on and see some pretty important and nutty news: last night, rising hip-hop star and Odd Future member Frank Ocean came out via his Tumblr, revealing the story about the first time he fell in love with a man. 

In a screenshot of a text file called "thank you’s," presumably intended to be included in the liner notes of his upcoming album, Channel Orange (to be released July 17), Ocean recounts the events from four years ago. Here are some highlights below:

4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence … until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless…

I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell me the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years. I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn’t on a cliff, I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn’t imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn’t always successful.

Ocean goes on to thank those around him who have given him strength and encouragement, including friends, family, and the man who sparked those emotions: 

Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive, kept me save … sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are … great humans, probably angels. I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore. There’s probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean. I was never alone, as much as I felt like it … as much as I still do sometimes. I never was. I don’t think I ever could be. Thanks. To my first love. I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was. Some things never are … and we were. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you.

It’s a big week for coming-out stories, huh! While many were not surprised by Anderson Cooper’s announcement on Monday, Ocean’s coming out might be legitimately surprising to many people. And with the stigma in the hip-hop community still so large, preventing many other closeted members of the industry to keep their personal lives hidden, I have to applaud Ocean’s courage, especially so early in his career (he hasn’t even released a proper album yet!). Time will tell how this news will affect his career, although Ocean’s already strong collaborations with Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Kanye West seem like he has a high-profile support system behind him that will help him find his success as a solo artist.

Gakwer’s Louis Peitzman (who is also a BlackBook contributor) raises the appropriate questions about Ocean’s coming out and its affect on his career. He points to country singer Chely Wright’s comments, revealing how her coming out in 2010 had a negative impact on her record sales. But perhaps more encouragingly is the statement from hip-hop honcho Russell Simmons, who wrote on his blog a short reaction to Ocean’s coming out

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. Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear. These types of secrets should not matter anymore, but we know they do, and because of that I decided to write this short statement of support for one of the greatest new artists we have.

His gifts are undeniable. His talent, enormous. His bravery, incredible. His actions this morning will uplift our consciousness and allow us to become better people. Every single one of us is born with peace and tranquility in our heart. Frank just found his.

Frank, we thank you. We support you. We love you.

That’s an incredibly promising start! Let’s sincerely hope this does change the game in some way, that it will encourage more tolerance in the community and also among hip-hop fans at large. I’ve already seen people on Twitter say that this is a bigger deal than Anderson Cooper’s coming out; that remains to be seen. But what I can admit is that Frank Ocean has set himself up to be a pretty big role model for a large group within a community that has long been silenced. I couldn’t feel more proud on Independence Day than I do right now. 

Watch Odd Future Critique an Up-and-Coming Rapper on MTV’s ‘RapFix Live’

"I just want to say, this is so fucked up of you guys to do this with us," Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator says at the start of this video. "For you to do this to this kid’s self-esteem… that’s fucked up." He’s talking about the "Get in the Game" segment on MTV’s RapFix Live in which Odd Future was asked to critique Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$, who’s not even old enough to perform his Skype interview from somewhere other than his high school’s hallway. After watching the video for his "Survival Tactics" song, the Odd Future members were as congenial as they could possibly be. Watch the clip after the jump, via Vibe

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"You can rap," Earl Sweatshirt says, with which Domo Genesis concurs. "Stay in school," Tyler tells Bada$$ before adding, "You know Grizzly Bear is coming out with a new album, right? So excited." The song’s not bad, so it’s nice that they weren’t too rude about the whole thing. Grab Odd Future’s newly released The OF Tape Vol. 2 and keep up with Joey Bada$$ on his Twitter, which he so helpfully provides in the clip.  (That’s badass spelled b-a-d-a-s-s.)

Watch Video for Odd Future’s “Oldie,” Earl Sweatshirt’s First Interview Since Coming Home

Earl Sweatshirt is perhaps the most talented and most mysterious member of Odd Future, having just returned from an almost two-year stint at a Samoan re-education camp because, as he puts it, “[he] was fucking up.” That’s from a brand new radio interview with Earl with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, the first he’s done since coming back to all of the hype that popped off while he was away. Joined by OF members Tyler and Taco, there’s about 11 minutes of the somewhat reserved Earl discussing what his life has been like, how he’s dealing with fame, and answering other burning questions. Watch it after the click, via Pitchfork.

Tyler is obnoxiously combative as always, but Earl’s pretty hesitant to answer the questions about himself until Rosenberg, ever the pro, gets him to open up. Eventually, Earl stops giving one word answers and gets a little candid about how much has changed since those early OF days. “We were there when no one was there and could do whatever we want every day like it was nothing,” he says. “The other day I was trying to skate and I just couldn’t.” And then: “I was taking a piss at Six Flags and someone asked me if I was Earl Sweatshirt.” That sounds like fun! He also says that he wasn’t sent away because his mom heard one of his songs and freaked out, as the popular perception goes, but because he was screwing up in a lot of other ways. He thinks he’s better for now it now.

Still, the time off hasn’t robbed him of the ability to shit on his friends: when hypeman Taco starts poking fun at Earl’s somewhat diminished finances (he wasn’t around to make all of the money that OF has over the last year), Earl tells him, “Don’t act like you’re not the Meg of our group.” (Meg Griffin, I think, because at least Meg White laid down a beat.) To which Taco says: “Fuck you! I’ve always been the Meg!” Oh, youth.

OF also just released a video for their song, “Oldie,” a ten-minute posse cut which features every member of the collective on the track, including Earl and Frank Ocean. It’s pretty great.

Earl is rumored to be joining OF’s New York show tonight to celebrate the release of the group’s The OF Tape Vol. 2, which is out today. Get ready for rap Twitter to blow up tonight if that’s the case.

Hear Frank Ocean Sing the Po-Mo Blues on ‘White’

Teenage wastelanders Odd Future are set to release a new album next week called Odd Future Tape Vol. 2, featuring contributions from the entire Wolf Gang. A few days ahead of schedule, one of those cuts has leaked out: Frank Ocean’s "White," a sparse ballad in which the singer explores the really big questions. "Could this be Earth? Could this be light?" Ocean asks in his strong quiver. "Does this mean everything’s going to be alright?" So yes, he’s still singing the same type of self-aware emotional blues that brought him to attention on last year’s Nostalgia, Ultra. Listen to it after the click, via Prefix.

There’s a lyric about "all my white friends," but let’s wait a little while to touch that. In other Odd Future news, ringleader Tyler the Creator is getting pranked in an upcoming episode of the new Punk’d series. Isn’t it charming, the way he tries to run away after potentially killing someone? Look out for the full appearance in a little bit.

Morning Links: Bobbi Kristina Trusts Oprah, Lady Gaga Hits 20 Million Twitter Followers

● Bobbi Kristina has entrusted Oprah with her first interview since Whitney’s death becasue, she says, Oprah "was loyal to my mom, and never did my mother wrong, or made her look bad. She always looked out for my mom." Their talk will air Sunday. [TMZ]

● Tina Fey was supposed to help Lindsay Lohan deliver her opening monologue on Saturday Night Live but pulled out at the last second because her kids were sick — or because she’s tired of defending her Mean Girls co-star, depending on who you ask. [NYDN]

● The Barenaked Ladies will provide the score for Delta Chi Fraternity in the upcoming adaptation, Animal House: The Musical. [ArtsBeat]

● Lady Gaga became the first person to hit 20 million twitter followers. Followers number 19,999,998 or 19,999,999 or even 20 million — where have you been? [NME]

● Details about The Canyon, the microbudget, L.A. based noir film Brett Easton Ellis supposedly wrote for porn star James Deen, are begining to emerge. [Playlist]

● Odd Future debuted the second track off their collective album, The OF Tape Vol. 2, and "Rella" followup, "NY (Ned Flander)" last night. The predictably weirdo video is directed by none other than Tyler himself under his Wolf Haley alias. [RapRadar]

Odd Future’s Frank Ocean vs The Eagles

If you are going to straight-up steal someone’s music and you get caught, because there was no way you aren’t the rip-off is so incredibly blatant, wouldn’t you at least be a bit respectful? After all, you clearly appreciate whomevers music you’re taking. Not so with Frank Ocean.  The so-called mellow member of Odd Future used The Eagles “Hotel California” for his free mixtape nostalgia, released almost a year ago, and is now being as unapologetic and curse-wordy as it gets over the supposed lawsuit from The Eagles’ Don Henley and Warner Music Group. 

Here is the song:

So yeah.

On his Tumblr, Ocean writes this expletive-laced rant:

“He (They) threatened to sue if I perform it again. I think that’s fuckin awesome. I guess if I play it at coachella it’ll cost me a couple hundred racks. If I don’t show up to court, it’ll be a judgement against me & will probably show up on my credit report. Oh well. I try to buy my shit cash anyway.”

He continues:

“They also asked that I release a statement expressing my admiration for Mr. Henley, along with my assistance pulling it off the web as much as possible. Shit’s weird. Ain’t this guy rich as fuck?”

Ocean’s Odd Future group member, the always brash Tyler the Creator, has also added his two cents, Tweeting

Tyler the Creator

 

The label told the LA Times, The Eagles and  Don Henley haven’t even threatened legal action, though the band is now considering it. Was this a PR ploy to drum up press for his mixtape?  Did he take to instigating out of boredom? Is there actually a suit? What’s going on?!?!? Who knows.

Watch the Trailer for ‘Loiter Squad,’ Odd Future’s Adult Swim Show

Because I am nothing but a slave to the hype machine, here is the trailer for the Odd Future-affiliated Adult Swim sketch show, Loiter Squad. Set to premiere on March 25, it looks to be a delightful/annoying absurdist comedy romp, with the members of Odd Future dressing up like E.T., doing snow angels on open-faced jelly sandwiches and covering themselves in nacho cheese, among other hijinks. (There appears to be a sketch in which a date goes wrong after the male transforms under influence of the moon to become Xzibit, everyone’s favorite punchline rapper. Were-Xzibit!!) 

The show will presumably make use of the collective’s greater roster, but for now it looks like members Taco, Jasper, Lionel, and of course, Tyler, will feature prominently. The March 25 premiere date ties in nicely with the group’s upcoming OF Tape Vol. 2, which is still set for release on March 20. If you want more, you can download a free Hodgy Beats EP; if you want less, well, that’s on you.

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