Channel Orange

Music review by
Jessica Dawson, Common Sense Media
Channel Orange Music Poster Image
Intense, poetic R&B has mature themes and content.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Although there are some intense messages about drugs, money, addiction, and prostitution, most of the songs are critical of these vices. Ocean is about hope and survival, and his songs, ultimately, reveal that.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ocean sings about some heavy topics, but he does so in a way that's honest and hopeful, with music and lyrics that are thoughtful.


Some themes and imagery about suicide and hurting one's self: "You used to get cut up from time to time."


Some innuendo and themes about sex and prostitution: "Pyramids" says "I'm bathing your body, touching you places only I know." "Sierra Leone" criticizes the stupidity and consequences (a baby) of unprotected sex.


Bad language doesn't permeate the album, but it's still there: "F--k," "s--t," "n---a."


Debut album features lots of collaborators like John Mayer, Andre 3000, and fellow OFWGKTA member Earl Sweatshirt.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some themes about drugs and addiction, but in a realistic, critical way: "Crack Rock" says, "stealin' and robbin' to get the fixin' that you're itching for...How you feelin' girl? How's the gutter doing?"

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Channel Orange is the debut album from OFWGKTA member Frank Ocean (who garnered lots of press for his revelation that he's bisexual), and has lots of intense, adult themes about drugs, money, addiction, and prostitution, but in an artful and poetic way that's honest, critical, and hopeful. There are some violent themes, sexual images, and profanity, including "f--k" and "n---a." Not for kids, but not your typical R&B or rap album, either.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byclarence August 5, 2015
Parent Written byKennyLogginsFan October 19, 2012

Frankie O

If you don't let your kid listen to this album, chances are that your last name is Mussolini.
Kid, 11 years old May 11, 2020

16+ is stupid.

The swearing isn't so bad, and it's only maybe a dozen times over 17 tracks and 1 hour. It's a great album, but Blonde is better... Listen to it,... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 10, 2019

What's the story?

After writing for artists like Justin Bieber, Brandy, and John Legend, Frank Ocean releases his first solo album, CHANNEL ORANGE, a lengthy 17 tracks (a few are sound clips) that show Ocean's gift for storytelling and beautiful tenor vocals and falsetto woven around intense themes of love, addiction, and hope. John Mayer, Andre 3000, and Ocean's fellow member from OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All), Earl Sweatshirt, collaborate on this album.

Is it any good?

Channel Orange is exhausting, but in a good way. The young Ocean reveals a soulful R&B sound that often recalls the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Jill Scott, or Corinne Bailey Rae. His vocals are velvety and vulnerable, singing stories that are honest and at times heart-wrenching. He has a critical eye -- like in "Super Rich Kids," about the excess and emptiness of wealth, but he also has a way of putting himself in and out of the songs to make them both sad and hopeful. "Crack Rock" and "Pyramids" have adult themes of drugs and prostitution, but the music and lyrics are spectacular. Most of the album is mellow in true R&B form, but with unexpected turns and sensuously rich music that make this debut album revelatory.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the hype in the media surrounding Frank Ocean and his revelation that he is a bisexual (after rumors began). Do you think it matters what someone does in their private life? Does that determine whether or not you buy their music?

  • Ocean doesn't write typical R&B music. He's a storyteller and observer. Do you think his music is positive or negative? Give specific examples or songs.

  • Why do you think this album has been so critically acclaimed?

Music details

  • Artist: Frank Ocean
  • Release date: July 10, 2012
  • Type: Album
  • Label: Island Def Jam
  • Genre: R&B
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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