Here at Burbs, we find it important to come together to discuss our opinions and ideas about recent events in popular culture in order to develop a better overall understanding. This past weekend featured the release of Frank Ocean's newest single, "In My Room," which essentially came out of nowhere. We rounded up some of our troops and Frank fanatics in order to gage their thoughts, ideas, and opinions on the enigmatic artist's new song.
Digest Questions were posed by Carter Ferryman and Evan Linden.
First things first, let’s talk initial thoughts. What was your reaction/thoughts upon finishing the first listen?
Jack Martin (Martian): I was actually driving over to Ralph’s with Dylan when I first heard it, and as the song progressed we began to like it even more. I mean, the song is awesome. The production, the flow… I instantly wanted more.
Ralph James: My initial reaction? Like the very first one? Well fuck, I think it was the same reaction that I’ve had during every listen since then. This is my favorite thing ever right now. And yes, I know that that probably sounds hyperbolic considering the track’s only been in the world for less than a week, and that it’s from the same artist who crafted the masterpieces which are Channel Orange, Endless and Blonde. BUT, with all that being said, this track made me think about Frank to myself like I have many times before and say, “Wow, this man is truly a genius. Not just an artist, but a genius in every sense of the word. Like, how do I put it, Frank Ocean is the guy who Kanye thinks Kanye is. He is the Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, or Vincent van Gogh of our generation. He blends genres better than anybody else in the world right now, and his ability to transcend from rapping his ass off with a flow that is impenetrable to singing so well that my soul feels like it’s about to come out of my body and join forces with his is unparalleled.”
Evan Linden: The first listen had me mesmerized and I’ve continued to fall further in love with each listen after. The production is simply beautiful and Frank’s vocals and lyricism are at a newfound peak. “In My Room” might be the best Frank single we’ve received in quite some time, at least in my humble opinion.
Marty Gross: My first listen was definitely impressed to say the least. The intriguing mix of uncharacteristic rapping from Frank and his beautiful voice serenading me was gnarly. The instrumental was very simplistic, yet the lyrics were complex. The extended metaphor about his grievous nature towards the paparazzi and comparing it to a love/hate relationship was simply profound, yet preposterous simultaneously.
“In My Room” feels uncharacteristically uptempo for Frank; is this a foreshadowing towards a new sound on a potential new album? If so, does this excite you?
Martian: I’m in. Of course I’d love a few songs I can get deeeeeep into my feelings to but “In My Room” is so great and it’s a sound we haven’t heard too much from Frank. Let’s be real though, any album he drops is going to be masterful no matter the genre might be.
Ralph: Yes. Yes. Yes. A million times yes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in with the slowed down Frank singles like “Provider,” and “Moon River,” but there’s something about “In My Room” that makes me want to dance until my feet hurt and cry until the floor is soaked with my tears. I’ve recently adopted this idea that any piece of art (a television show, movie, album, book, etc.) is only going to stick with me many years from now if that piece of art can make me laugh so hard that I start crying, then in a matter of seconds I realize that I’m crying just because I’m crying for crying’s sake.
“In My Room” definitely achieves that. This song makes me smile because I always smile when I listen to new Frank, it’s like an early Christmas present. And if you don’t at least come close to crying while you’re listening to Frank Ocean, then are you really even listening?
Evan Linden: I think that “In My Room” is definitively a foreshadowing of the sound we will hear on his forthcoming project. It is distinctly rap-inspired, but has splices of pop, alternative, and R&B in typical Frank fashion. I get similar vibes from “DHL,” the single released prior to “In My Room.” Personally, I’ve always been a fan of “rap Frank” and have always felt that he's slept on as a rapper. He'll always primarily be a pop and R&B artist, but that boy can spit too. I think his forthcoming project will remind people of that; I have a feeling it will be a lot more fun and upbeat than his previous releases. I’m sure there will be some sad boy cuts, but I feel like many of the tracks will be meant for a good time (a la So Much Fun). I feel like Frank is finally over the bullshit and wants to embrace life in full.
Marty: In Frank’s discography, there are very few upbeat songs. I mean, on Channel Orange there’s “Super Rich Kids,” and on Blonde there’s the first half of “Nights,” but most of Frank’s music has a more somber tone. This style of music has brought Frank so much success already, and has shown Frank’s impact on the music industry. With that being said, I can’t see him completely switching his style upside down because of one single track. But then again, he disappeared off the face of the earth for like a year and does whatever the hell he wants, so I truly don’t fucking know (and neither do you).
Despite having a relatively new sound, “In My Room” is thematically beautiful - Frank’s songwriting hasn’t missed a step. What’s your favorite line on the record?
Martian: “Fuck it, I’m pretty still in a pit of snakes, while serpents shake some brand new scale.”
Ralph: Fuck… I hate the fact that I have to choose just one. This is like asking me to choose my favorite noodle in a Christopher’s chicken parm. I feel like I could make an argument for literally every single one, but if the circumstances are that I can only have one line, then that line would be:
“Not fake laid back, no it’s natural. And I think you made for the life I lead.”
Evan Linden: “I'm not fake patient, I don't fake sick.. That kinda coffin don't need lean”
Marty: “First they kiss, then they bite soft, Then that bitch wanna play it off.” There's just so many layers to this quote.
What’s your opinion on the silhouettes below the album art on both the “DHL” and “In My Room” cover? They’re different on both songs - are we getting two albums? Is this Frank playing mind games?
Martian: We won’t know until something has officially dropped and that’s how I prefer it. Part of what makes art so profound is the mystery behind its aura. We don’t know what it’ll sound like even though we think we have an idea. When it’s dropping, what the cover art will look like, what it’ll be called… no idea. That’s all up to Frank and it’s his world, we’re just waiting for a new album in it.
Evan Linden: Who knows, man. I don’t think I would say he’s playing mind games; I think he’s just one indecisive, perfectionist motherfucker who will change his album 50 times before we hear it. What I will say about the covers, though, is that the 90s-inspired, Rugrats-type fonts are icy and have me very excited for the creative direction of the album.
Ralph: Frank is always playing mind games. He’s ten steps ahead of the whole game. If life is a game of chess, then Frank is the chess board itself and we, the majority of the rest of the population, are all his pawns.
Now that I’m on the metaphor of the music game being a game of chess, and I’m thinking that Frank is the board itself, wouldn’t it make sense that Playboi Carti is the Queen? Earl’s probably the Rooks. Tyler’s definitely the King, cause we must protect him at all costs. Who’s the Knights? Travis? Yeah, that sounds about right.
Marty: If we're looking at the surface, then this probably means that a project is coming soon with a similar art design. The deeper meaning is hard to say. The juxtaposition of the black and white background and the bright exotic colors that say “In My Room” could mean that he is getting away from his past and going in a new musical direction. That would be my guess.
Michael “Uzi” Uzowuru is the only other writing credit on “In My Room” - he’s got significant credits on “Nights,” “Chanel,” and “RAF” among many other masterful records. What’s your favorite “Uzi” track?
Ralph: I don’t mean to overreact due to my recency bias (which I always seem to do), but bruh, this track is way too hard to not be in the same pantheon as “Nights,” and “Chanel” for me. This track immediately inserted itself into the top of my “favorite songs that mean the world to me and I don’t remember what life was like before they existed” category. If you’re curious what other songs fall under that distinction, then bang my line and I’ll hit you with my Apple Music playlist.
Martian: “Nights.” Sure, it’s “mainstream” or whatever dickheads on the internet want to say, but it’s genuine perfection. From start to finish, it just grabs onto you and doesn’t let go. I put it on as I typed this, it’s just… yeah. I’m going to go cry. Ralph, send me that playlist.
Evan Linden: I’m with Ralph - this track is up there with “Nights,” and “Chanel” for me. However, I’d feel guilty not putting down “Nights” as my favorite. It’s like how my Chicagoland roots would make me feel guilty for not putting down MJ as the GOAT, even if I'm tempted to say LeBron. Some things just never change.
Marty: Although I do thoroughly enjoy “In My Room,” nothing will ever top “Nights” for me. The exceptional beat change, different array of flows, and dazzling production makes for one of the best Frank Ocean tracks in my opinion. So, my favorite UZI song is probably “Nights.”