frank ocean

Straight Talk: Breaking Down January 2019’s Spotify Playlist

This month’s playlist is about energy.

2018 was a tough year for me; I’ve been eager for 2019 to come around. I’m hoping to start the year with some new energy. And apparently that was no secret. I heard from some people that this playlist immediately sounded different.

It’s about balance.

Energy with calmness. Light with dark. Male with female. Lost with found. Remembering with forgetting. Equality with inequality. Love with hate. New with old. Hope with fear. Strong with delicate. You can listen for the metaphorical meanings and make your own interpretations. But this was also about the most literal forms of balance. Hip hop, Baroque guitar. New finds, old favorites. New Justin Vernon, old Justin Vernon. (Really though, Justin Vernon appears 5 times.)

It’s about a prayer.

Because I heard somebody say that the best prayer sounds like ‘Godspeed’ by Frank Ocean. And the world today gives a lot to pray for. Many of those emotions can be heard in these songs. This prayer’s for you. For me. For all of us.

Here’s to 2019.

Note: if the playlist displayed is no longer of the current month, find the appropriate month at the link below.

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Frank Ocean – Provider


In the seventh installment of his Beats 1 Radio Show, Blonded, Frank Ocean released new track Provider. The song offers the familiar, dulcet sound we’ve grown to know from his recent releases. Throughout the summer in earlier episodes of blonded we’ve seen the release of Lens, Raf, Biking and a remix of Slide On Me featuring Young Thug. With all the madness in the world, a steady stream of music from Frank gives us one thing to smile about. We can only hope this means an album is in the works.

Check out Provider below.

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The Best Perfomances of WayHome 2017

WayHome 2017 Lineup

Far north past the allure of Coachella and the Governor’s Ball lies one of Canada’s hidden gems, WayHome Music and Arts festival. Held the past two summers at Burls Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, WayHome may not draw as much attention as other festivals, but year after year they still come wielding some of the biggest and most iconic names in music. It was no secret that ticket sales were down for WayHome this year, but as the weekend went on numbers rose as attendees poured in. With past lineups including headliners such as LCD Soundsystem, Neil Young and Kendrick Lamar this year was no disappointment.

Here are the best Performances of WayHome 2017:


From DJ to bonafide producer, Flume has certainly made a name for himself in the music industry. In 2016 we saw his sophomore studio album Skin take home a grammy for best dance/ electronic album and it’s only been up from there. In between producing for Lorde’s Melodrama, dropping Skin Companion EPs and a world tour, Flume has been hot on the festival circuit bringing us new favorites and old classics.


By far the most sultry performance of the weekend came from Banks. Clad in patent leather thigh-high boots and perfectly in sync with two costumed backup dancers, she didn’t miss a beat while belting out hits like Waiting Game and Brain.

Mura Masa

Seemingly out of nowhere came Mura Masa and something tells me he’s here to stay. With only one self-titled album he’s already got features from big names like Charli XCX, Desiigner and A$AP Rocky. Mura Masa gave attendees an energetic, late night set on the WayAway stage featuring all his modern pop classics.


One of electronic music’s most iconic duos, Justice is back after what felt like forever with a new album release last year and a world tour alike. Fans who have waited for months or even years for the opportunity to see them were not disappointed when new tracks like Safe & Sound and timeless favorites like Civilization and We Are Your Friends filled the air. Justice gave an incredibly high-powered live set before jumping down from the stage to shake hands and take some selfies with a few lucky fans.

Frank Ocean

The most intimate set of the weekend, if not the most intimate set ever, was from no other than Frank Ocean. After cancelling several festival performances earlier in the summer due to production delays it was easy to see why it was worth the wait. With a cover of Steve Monite’s Only You and a tour debut of Forrest Gump the entire crowd seemed to relish in each moment. He also strayed from his typical festival setlist when he performed bonafide classics Thinkin’ Bout You and Pyramids. Frank along with his four piece band took to the mic in between songs to remind us that he’s “only human” and sometimes still gets nervous performing for such large crowds.

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J∆YLIEN – All My Friends

New Jaylien!

J∆YLIEN (a.k.a. Jaylien Wesley) is an LA-based artist originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Early in his career as a way to support his daughter, he worked behind-the-scenes, songwriting and producing for major artists like AkonLL Cool J, and Chris Brown. Given the opportunity, however, he always wanted to start his own thing. In 2013, he partnered with director Stephen Garnett to create the imprint BlessAndSee and actually developed recent G.O.O.D. Music signee Kacy Hill. Finally last year, Wesley kicked off his solo career and scored looks from major music publications.

I first heard J∆YLIEN’s music in February of this year. I really liked “We Fcuk” and “Little Bit of You” (posted below), but his most recent single “All My Friends” pushed me over the edge. Maybe it’s because the track reminds me of Nostalgia, ULTRA-era Frank Ocean. Or maybe I can just relate to the annual FOMO felt during Coachella — especially this year when A$AP Rocky brought out Kanye as mentioned in the song. Either way with three solid solo tracks under his belt, J∆YLIEN is an artist to watch in 2016.

All my friends are at Coachella and I wish that I was there too

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Most Anticipated Albums of 2016

2015 came and went, some albums gave us chills, others made us want to party like it’s 1999, and then there were ones that just never seemed to arrive at all. While Adele made her surprising reappearance into the music world, Frank Ocean was probably off on an island far, far away laughing at us all as we impatiently wait for his sophomore album. He was most likely chillin’ alongside Rihanna and Kanye West, who have also been taking their precious time to release their next albums. Before we get too bitter about this, it’s important to think about all the great works of art that are likely to flood our ears in 2016. Here’s a list of albums that will (hopefully) arrive in the new year and fill our musical needs.

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Berhana – Janet

Berhana is not a rapper and he’s not from Brooklyn. Now that he’s made that clear to us, we can safely say we know next to nothing about this supremely talented newcomer.

The one thing we can latch onto though is his stellar single, “Janet,” which popped up on SoundCloud without much fanfare. The track is built on Sapphire’s soulful electric piano stabs and gorgeous vocal harmonies that create a lush backdrop for Berhana’s sharp lyrics and impressive vocal range.

There’s a bit of a “Super Rich Kids” vibe, but “Janet” is sweeter and sonically warmer than Frank Ocean‘s record. The single also expertly incorporates some choice Fresh Prince of Bel-Air snippets that only serve to make the track more dynamic.

It’s tough to point out a perfect comparison for Berhana after just one track, but his candor and smooth voice are reminiscent of Dornik in a lot of ways.

Regardless, he’s an exciting artist who we cannot wait to hear from again.

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Frank Ocean – At Your Best (You Are Love) [The Isley Brothers Cover]

Of course Frank Ocean drops a new cover and potential snippet of a single when I take a 24 hour siesta from technology. “It’ll be fine,” I said, “nothing majorly important will happen in music today.” Frank’s falsetto said (or, rather, sang) otherwise. In remembrance of Aaliyah‘s birthday (she would have been 36 today), Ocean absolutely nailed the Isley Brothers slow jam that she covered on her debut LP, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.

If you somehow don’t know or aren’t convinced about Frank yet, this could very easily be the vocal performance that changes that. Saying little is probably best for something this gorgeous. If you’re a fan though, can we talk about that snippet at the end? My god, I need a new Frank Ocean LP in my life…

(Listen via Frank Ocean’s Tumblr)

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Tyler Brown – I Don’t Want Love, Love, Love / Thinkin Bout You (The Antlers, As Tall As Lions, Frank Ocean Mashup)

When I think back on my days post-college graduation in North Carolina, one of the first things that comes to mind is my love for The Antlers. I fell hard for their song “I Don’t Want Love,” despite being in love in those days. It was a weird contradiction, but mostly I fell for the sound of the song and the vision I had in my mind of what a music video could look like for it if I were to direct it. It’s dark, but it’s so beautiful.

Fast forward, and the other day when I got a Twitter message from the one and only Arjun Grover saying he had a mashup for me. Turns out it’s a mashup/medley/cover (whatever you want to call it, take your pick) by the artist Tyler Brown. Sure enough, he blends my favorite “I Don’t Want Love” with another favorite “Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean and “Love, Love, Love (Love, Love)” by As Tall As Lions. Not three songs you’d imagine being pulled into one, but that’s the beauty of it. And ohhh, when The Antlers part starts at around the 0:30 mark, my heart just melts all over again. Man, music nostalgia is a powerful, powerful thing. Beautiful work, Tyler Brown. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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[Download MP3] Frank Ocean, The Clash, & Diplo – Hero

Don’t worry, I had to do a double-take too when I saw Frank Ocean, The Clash‘s Mick Jones and Paul Simonon and Diplo were all on a track together. It only made sense was when I realized that they collaborated for Converse’s “Three Artists, One Song” project. I had sort of forgotten that they did this, but I remember when they got Kid Cudi, Rostam Batmanglij (of Vampire Weekend) and Bethany Cosentino (of Best Coast)  together on a track called “All Summer” back in 2010.

This time around, they’ve pulled some stellar artists together, and they even recruited the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir for an angelic refrain. The result is a catchy tune that plays on the strengths of all key players: Frank Ocean’s alluring storytelling through his vocals, the punk instrumentals and shouts from Jones and Simonon, and the perfect production that Diplo has become famous for. The woo of the children’s choir is the icing on top of the cake.

There’s always a fear that collaborations like this will fall flat on their faces, but surprisingly enough, they can just as often work like a charm. This time, we’re lucky it was the latter.

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[MP3 Download] Trails and Ways – Lost (Frank Ocean Cover)

Anything involving the name Frank Ocean will get my full attention without any hesitation. Therefore when I see someone has covered a Frank Ocean track, you know I’m there to replay it over and over. Trails and Ways have managed to take the addictive tune “Lost” and create their own indie soothing spin to it.  It’s got a chill vibe that  does not disappoint and it’s also free for download, win-win here folks.

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The Best and Worst Frank Ocean Covers

I can say with confidence that Frank Ocean has one of my favorite voices that I’ve ever heard. In full transparency, though, I wasn’t quick to hop on the train. It took me a bit of time to fall in love with the crooner. I find that your typical R&B music doesn’t always draw me in right away. I’m one of the few bloggers out there who never went crazy over The Weeknd. When Frank Ocean first crossed my radar, it didn’t really stick with me. It really took Channel Orange to convert me to a forever-fan.

Since then, I’ve heard cover after cover of people trying to recreate his songs and just not doing them the right amount of justice. The notes in “Thinkin Bout You” are hard to hit; it’s easy to hear that in the covers. That song is Frank’s creation and it’s something it seems only can perform flawlessly. That said, I do enjoy listening to the covers to see how people recreate Frank’s masterpieces. Here is a list of the fourteen best and worst Frank Ocean covers. Let me just warn you, there was a lot of face palming and painful listening to get to this. Beware, you’ll likely feel just as uncomfortable as I did while I was sifting through countless covers to get to this final list. (Hit the jump to start listening.)

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BASTILLE – Thinkin Bout You ft. O.N.E. (Frank Ocean Cover)

I’m really into covers right now. You might have seen my 10 Good Cover Songs post, in which I wrote about 10 of the best covers I’ve ever heard. So needless to say, when I saw that one of my favorite artists right now–Bastille–covered a song by one of my all-time favorite singers–Frank Ocean–I got giddy. That said, I gave it a listen and I’m a little underwhelmed. Bastille’s voice is too good for the way this turned out. The production is a little murky and really the only parts I really like are the background croons and the chorus. So yeah…it was a letdown. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment, you little biddies.

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