Normally, it would seem like a strange choice for an R&B artist’s new single to be a 10-minute epic that references Cleopatra before breaking into slinky Egyptian Lover-esque electro-funk. Then again, most people aren’t Frank Ocean, and "Pyramids" is no ordinary pop song. Like past stories featuring down-on-their luck protagonists, Frank Ocean sees glitz and glamour as a thin veneer under which darker and sadder happenings threaten to break through. We soon learn Cleopatra is a stripper, rather than the Egyptian princess, and that Frank Ocean’s protagonist is a sad-sack whose "Whip ain’t got no gas tank / But it still got wood grain." "Pyramids" becomes a Las Vegas noir lit by grubby neon, the type of place where a sleazy yacht-rock outro sounds more desolate than cheesy. If there’s a Raymond Chandler of R&B, Frank Ocean has got to be him.
Frank Ocean—Channel Orange
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