Friday, February 17, 2017

Pink Matter: Life, Lust, and Aliens

Frank Ocean debuted his Channel Orange Album in 2012. He titled the album as a reference to a neurological phenomenon called  grapheme-color synesthesia. This means a person's experience or sense is related to a color. Frank is referencing how he fell in love. The song “Pink Matter” takes a sadder, more laidback style with themes of sex and betrayal. Ocean experiences an internal strife and struggle between the meaning of life, love and sex, extraterrestrial life, and gender.

In the very beginning of the song Frank describes the philosophy of “mind body problem”.  He is trying to figure out the relationship between the brain and consciousness. Frank is raising the question of whether the brain is merely matter, or is the mind something more?

What do you think my brain is made for
Is it just a container for the mind
This great grey matter

Throughout the song Frank refers to a “Sensei”. The sensei represents Frank’s internal consciousness as well as his own battles between lust, sex, and love. A sensei is a teacher, often a wise one. In this line Frank is conversing with the sensei and raising questions.

Sensei replied what is your woman
Is she just a container for the child

Frank is being questioned about how he views the purpose of women. He does not know if he simply views women as containers for holding children and giving birth. Frank is reluctant to say whether he values women for their minds or just for their bodies. This is relevant in a society that seems to only value women for their bodies, and it is obviously affecting Frank himself. Frank’s sensei is helping him open up to ideas about gender as well as acceptance. Next, Frank jumps to the questioning of extraterrestrial life.

What if the sky and the stars are for show
And the aliens are watching live

Frank is questioning the idea that human beings are small compared to the grand scheme of the universe.  By using the words “what if” it allows the audience to be detached from their own perspective and take a look at the larger scheme of things. If Frank does believe there are aliens, it makes the problems of his own life a little less severe and insignificant. This ideology is a common experience for everyone. As long as humans have the consciousness they will begin to question the meaning of things and the relativity of themselves as a whole.

Towards the end of the song, Frank also brings in his own questioning of sexuality. In July of 2012, shortly after the release of the Channel Orange album, Frank opened up about how he is bisexual. This was a shock to many in the hip hop industry and caused backlash to Frank himself.

Grey matter
Blue used to be my favorite color
Now I ain't got no choice
Blue matter

By starting with the line “Grey matter” and ending the verse with “Blue matter” Frank is showing his own transition to a new way of thinking. Instead of being stuck in his own grey matter and jumble of senselessness and confusion, he turns to one that is more himself. When he says he has “no choice” it could be that he cannot choose his own sexuality and refuses to hide it anymore. The blue could also be about how Frank is stuck in his gender. Society is telling him that he is a man, and that he is “blue”. Frank feels trapped in these fixed molds but has no choice but to conform. There are other songs in the album speculated to be about his struggles with his sexualty including one titled “Forrest Gump”.

Overall the common themes and questioned Frank shares are a common experience for everyone. As people age throughout their lives, these age old questions about life and love appear. This song is especially relevant in a society that is so obsessed with stereotyping and celebrity culture. This song forces the audience to go through Frank’s own internal strife as well as your own.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you touched upon all of the meanings of the song and tied them all together at the end. The song does truly sound like a poem. Nice detailed analysis.