In his first performance since publicly proclaiming his homosexuality, an emotional Frank Ocean performed his new single, “Bad Religion” on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" Monday evening.
Ocean, a singer/songwriter and a member of the hip hop collective Odd Future, has written songs for Justin Bieber, John Legend and Beyoncé, and was featured doing his own thing on Jay Z and Kanye’s “Watch the Throne” album.
Last week, he shocked the general hip-hop populace by coming out on his blog, just two weeks before his first solo album was set to release.
In a post of a screen shot of a letter he seems to have written to himself this past December, Ocean mused about the first time he truly fell in love and the discovery of his gay sexuality at the age of 19. The experience was revealing and ultimately freeing, but painful in that the object of his affections didn’t feel the same.
After recounting the details of the life-altering encounter, he closes the missive with, “I don't know what happens now, and that's alrite. I don't have any secrets I need kept anymore… Thanks to my first love, I'm grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn't what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was… I feel like a free man. If I listen closely… I can hear the sky falling too."
Last night, in his first ever TV appearance, Ocean -- with the help of Fallon’s house band The Roots and an orchestra -- shook the crowd, softly, with his ballad that’s sort of about God, but really about an unrequited love affair – with a boy.
“I could never make him love me. It’s a bad religion to be in love with someone who never loves you back. Only bad religion could have me feeling the way I do.”
It’s clearly a sad song, but it’s composition, release and performance, accompanying last week's reveal, is of great significance to both the hip-hop and the gay community, and a landmark step towards the cross cultural acceptance of homosexuality that is so long overdue.
Ocean’s album Channel Orange, is currently available on iTunes and will be in stores July 17.