Song Surgery – Frank Ocean’s ‘Forrest Gump.’

forrest-gump-legsFor many folks, Frank Oceans burst on the scene is sudden and abrasive. Who is this guy who seemingly came out of nowhere but is on the tips of everyone’s tongues. Franks Ocean has an appeal that is based solely on the quality of his music and the creative style that he presents it. His music is powerful and has the ability to move, takeover, and permeate ones being. Two weeks before his highly anticipated major label debut, channel Orange, was set to debut, he decided to finally publish a six moth old letter he had written on a flight from New Orleans to Los Angeles.

In the Letter, he tells the story of screaming and cursing “ at the creator in the sky” for developing deep feelings for his “first love” that changed his life forever. He approaches the letter with the same veracity and eloquence that he does his acclaimed music. He speaks of spending virtually all of his time with his lover over a period of four years. “Most of the day,” he confesses, “I’d see him and his smile…By the time I realizedn it, I was in love, it was malignant.”

After being rejected but his love interest and failing to keep up a pseudo-friendship with him thereafter, Frank began to write music that would keep him leveled. He writes in the letter, “ I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine. I tried to channel overwhelming emotions.”

A track on channel Orange, “Forrest Gump,” is a piece of music that illustrates Oceans efforts to channel emotions about his four-year affair.  He uses the theme of the movie Forrest Gump as a metaphor to tell the story of his own unrequited love. He portrays himself as a lover that supports Gump in all of his efforts to no avail. In the song, he has been lost in thought obsessing about the elusive Forrest Gump, he writes: “my finger tips and my lips, they burn/ from the cigarettes.

Within the first bar of the song, Ocean is able to tell the divergent stories with the same theme and lyrics. As the admirer, the first line conjures up imagery of the infamous scene in the movie. The scene sees Gump throwing a girl he is kissing off of him and, after apologizing to Lt. Dan, he confesses: “she taste’s like cigarettes.”

With one line, he is able to establish in song that his support for his real life love interest will never be reciprocated.  Indeed, Forrest Gump hates cigarettes and would never be with anyone that smoke. Oceans music is so enthralling because of the many layers that can be uncovered after multiple listens.

Forrest Gump runs through Oceans mind just as the subject of his letter has overtime. He has spent so much of his time agonizing over his obsession with Forrest Gump—just as he had done with his real life lover—that all he has now is the after burn and the stench of burnt cigarettes as a reminder of an unreciprocated relationship: “I saw your game Forrest/ I was screaming run 44 but you kept running past the end zone/ oh where’d you go Forrest?”

As Ocean came to realize that his lover was more interested in maintain his relationship with his girlfriend instead of having a healthy, open homosexual relationship takes precedence. No matter how much Ocean roots for more in his relationship, Forrest Gump runs past the goal and disappoint Ocean’s hopes.

In time we will know the significance of Ocean coming out has on the Hip-hop community and songwriters in the immediate future. However, a few things are clear. Ocean has done something that not only takes courage, but he has also changed the landscape of r&b as it is one of the most hetero-normative genre’s of music there is. Ocean has resolved one thing: he no longer has any secrets to hide from the world. Thank God for honesty. Thank God for Hip-hop.

* This is Hip-hop’s Word; govern yourself accordingly.

Listen and Download Here:

Record:: Frank Ocean. Forrest Gump.

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