Frank Ocean has crafted songs for stars much bigger than himself – but this year his own star finally shone brightest. His debut album, Channel Orange, dots numerous lists rounding up the best albums of 2012. He swapped the irreverence of hip-hop collective Odd Future for the polished yet tragic themes of unrequited love and loneliness on Channel Orange. But what gave Ocean’s lyrics particular resonance was the open letter he published on his Tumblr blog just a week prior to the album’s release, in which he revealed his first love was a man. “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore,” he wrote. “I feel like a free man.” In the hip-hop community, not exactly known for being gay-friendly, Ocean’s candor was a breath of fresh air. Many of his musician peers, including Beyonce, Russell Simmons and his former music partner Tyler, the Creator, expressed their support for Ocean.
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