Contemporary soul singers usually don't fare too much better than hip hop artists when it comes to creative freedom, but Michael Kiwanuka seems to have made the album he wanted to make, except that no one's really talking about it.
While clearly drawing on the previous efforts of the genre's most famous sons (Marvin Gaye, Prince, etc.), a host of young artists have begun to open R & B up to a wide range of influences from rock, electronica and beyond.
Without seeming preachy, overbearing, or the least bit cliché, Channel Orange pulls you in like a page-turning novel. Undoubtedly, this album will top many end-of-year lists, but its impact will last much longer.
When I think of Frank Ocean I think about his talent, his amazing songwriting ability, his terrific voice. I think of the first time I heard "Novacane." Should we care whether Frank Ocean is gay or bisexual? The short answer is no.