Here, at Hip Hop Hero, we’re looking back through the archives to provide some light entertainment in what is a particularly anxiety-inducing time and what better way to forget your trouble than pawing through the favourite songs of a searing artist. Every dancefloor needs a DJ and, in this case, we’re more than happy to give up the aux to Frank Ocean.
Here, we turn to Frank Ocean and a collection of 50 songs that helped shape his creative vision, including tracks from Jimi Hendrix, Prince and The Cure.
Ocean, a prolific singer-songwriter, record producer and visual artist, was able to burst onto the scene by releasing his 2011 critically acclaimed mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra and didn’t look back. Famed for his creativity and unique approach, Ocean has been able to reinvent the traditional way of framing R&B and, by blending core elements of jazz-funk, psychedelic rock, and soul music with elements of traditional pop music, he has devised his own avant-garde manner. It makes for an intoxicating cocktail.
“Some people focus more on sonics. Some people focus more on story. I focus on both sonics and story, but music sometimes, just music itself, can turn into more of a maths problem,” Ocean once said of his unique pathway to artistic heaven. “I guess everything in life is a math problem, but it can be more about an empirical route to getting the symmetry that you want, and this vibe, sonically,” he added, offering a glimpse into the deeper workings of his relentlessly active mind.
“In art, at a certain level, there is no ‘better than.’ It’s just about trying to operate for yourself on the most supreme level, artistically, that you can and hoping that people get it,” he added. “Trusting that, just because of the way people are built and how interconnected we are, greatness will translate and symmetry will be recognised.”
Ocean’s view on artistic creation is one that never wavers. In his deepest of hearts, he understands with sincere clarity the path in which he is forcing his music down.
While Frank Ocean is always willing to learn, study, and alter his own approach if it so requires, the core principles of being true to his art remain the solid base in which he begins every creation. So when he was asked by Genius to pick out what he would consider his 50 favourite songs, the musician did so with meticulous accuracy.
Given his severe range of influences, Ocean’s collection is a varied and wide-ranging mix of sounds. Expect to see the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Cure, Prince, The Beatles, Donna summer, Mazzy Star and more.
Below, also find a full playlist of the songs included.
Frank Ocean’s 50 favourite songs:
- ‘Crosstown Traffic’ – Jimi Hendrix
- ‘How Insensitive’ – Frank Sinatra
- ‘Scarborough Fair’ – Simon & Garfunkel
- ‘Alina’ – Arvo Part
- ‘I Feel Love’ – Donna Summer
- ‘To The Last Whale’ – Crosby & Nash
- ‘Prints Tie’ – Bobby Hutcherson
- ‘Jardim Dos Deuses’ – Joyce Moreno
- ‘Fade Into You’ – Mazzy Star
- ‘No More Shall We Part’ – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
- ‘I Never Learnt To Share’ – James Blake
- ‘One Mo Gin’ – D’Angelo
- ‘The Last One To Be Loved’ – Gabor Szabo
- ‘Shadows’ – Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes
- ‘Images Live In 1964’ – Nina Simone
- ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ – Roberta Flack
- ‘It’s Gonna Rain’ – Steve Reich
- ‘Stardust’ – Willie Nelson
- ‘Nós e o mar’ – Tamba Trio
- ‘$’ – D.R.A.M.
- ‘When I Die’ – Goldlink
- ‘The Man-Machine’ – Kraftwerk
- ‘Asiko’ – Tony Allen
- ‘Earth Bound Hearts’ – John Mclaughlin feat. John Surman
- ‘Simply Beautiful’ – Al Green
- ‘Mr. Bojangles’ – Nina Simone
- ‘Flamingo’ – Todd Rundgren
- ‘The Medley Of Praise’ – Daryl Coley
- ‘Claire De Lune’ – Isao Tomita
- ‘Calls’ – Robert Glasper feat. Jill Scott
- ‘Your Smile’ – Chaka Khan and Rufus
- ‘Bitch Please’ – Death Grips
- ‘Anthrax’ – Gang Of Four
- ‘I Am The Walrus’ – The Beatles
- ‘Jesus Children Of America’ – Stevie Wonder
- ‘Garden Of Linmiri’ – Caustic Window
- ‘Home (YouTube Rip)’ – Kim Burrell
- ‘Vibrate’ – OutKast
- ’12 Aisatsana’ – Aphex Twin
- ‘Mis’ – Alex G
- ‘Right Down The Line’ – Gerry Rafferty
- ‘Anytime’ – Ray J
- ‘Jesus’ – Curtis Mayfield
- ‘Something About Us’ – Daft Punk
- ‘Your Daddy Loves You’ – Gil Scott Heron
- ‘Portrait Of Tracy’ – Jaco Pastorius
- ‘Rusholme Ruffians’ – The Smiths
- ‘When U Were Mine’ – Prince
- ‘Road To Nowhere’ – Talking Heads
- ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ – The Cure