It’s still way too early to tell where Frank Ocean will end up in the annals of pop vocalists, but so early in his career and already the Odd Future singer has been able to display an endearing blend of warmth, sincerity and teary-eyed optimism in his music. It’s all there, on audio display on Ocean’s major-label debut Channel Orange. Those emotions may have also been present on “No Such Thing as White Jesus,” a now-lost song Ocean record with veteran lyricist Nas, but the world may never know.
New York Times pop music critic Jon Caramanica got a live audition of the song’s chorus when he interviewed Frank Ocean at his home in Hollywood Hills, California, just days before the emotive vocalist revealed on his Tumblr that he had at least one love affair with another man.
“Honestly, when he sang the hook, ‘No Such Thing as White Jesus,’ when he sang that hook, I was like, ‘This is what Nas needs right now,’ ” Caramanica told MTV News in an interview.
The track was meant for God’s Son’s upcoming July 17 Life is Good album, but the recording session was lost — most likely the result of a corrupt digital file. As of now, the only public record of the track’s remnants is in Caramanica’s New York Times profile of Ocean: “Creating His Own Gravity.”
“Whatever you do, young king, don’t wind up dead/ Young queen, cross your legs/ Put a crown on your head and remove the chains/ ‘Cause even diamond chains are for slaves/ Don’t set foot in no penitentiary and don’t taste the poison/ Don’t you bail on your families,” Ocean sang for the veteran journalist.
According to the writer, Frank’s performance was similar to the one critics and fans raved about on Jay-Z and Kayne West’s “No Church in the Wild.”
“You listen to ‘No Church in the Wild’ and you kind of know what he wants to bring to those sorts of records, and it was just that, but it felt even amped up to a different level,” Caramanica continued to describe. “It’s political and astute; it was just working on a lot of different levels.”
Because of album deadlines, Nas and Frank weren’t able to get back in the studio to re-record the track. Originally both artists were scheduled to drop their LPs on July 17, but Ocean moved his date up and released Channel Orange on Monday night, a week earlier than originally planned. Still, Nas’ Life is Good is shaping up to be one of the year’s more remarkable releases, marked by poignant tracks like “Daughters” and golden-era revisits like the Large Professor-produced “Loco-Motive.”
If not for fans across the globe, maybe the two stars should pencil in a studio session for Caramanica, who was clearly distraught to only get a taste of what could have been. “Man, I was bummed, I was really upset to know that was in existence somewhere,” he said.
Out of all his collaborators, whom do you believe Frank Ocean has the best chemistry with? Let us know in the comments!