"DHL"—Package in Transit?
A Review of the unofficial Tumblr Anthem and the beginning of a new era.
"DHL" was unexpected; well, in my case anyways. I woke up next to my girl (Ahha ha ha *rubs hands together*) and looked at my phone straightaway as I normally do, only to see five lovely messages from a friend telling me that a new Frank Ocean track had dropped in cohesion with the return of Blonded Radio on Apple Music (Playlist Linked below). Let me be honest with you, I needed this shit.
Sonically, the song is the very embodiment of the new age alternative hip hop era we're in. It's the soundscape that the likes of Kevin Abstract came with, and more high profiled artists such as ASAP Rocky and Frank, have been adopting. I simply think it's refreshing as f*ck and what the genre needs as we head into a new decade.
The use of a stretched sample accompanied by various cadences and vocal pitching is a combo that feels as filling as it does drunk. Un-pitched Frank vocals have become a rare commodity nowadays. Countless “pitched down” versions of his songs can be found on Youtube and Soundcloud, almost adding to Frank’s discography.
Vocal layering creates a dreamy soundscape that encapsulates the listener, providing the soundtrack to their drunken fantasies, as well as sonically adding new elements to the track; giving it depth and a sense of completion and confidence that leaks into the listeners ears.
Speaking of confidence, Frank is full to the brim with it. The lyrics are as braggadocios as they are iconic. From the refrain “suck me, suck me” to “boy-toy ride my like an uber.” Frank is not only feeling good, he’s feeling great, and the listener is hearing all about it. We all know Frank's ability to rap has been on show since 2012. Features on "Sunday" and "Oldie" proved that, but he's in his bag here and I dig it. His monotone flow in the first section is very different to the second section but both feel just as pure and honest as each other. No falsities in this rap.
"DHL" is definitely a good track, but not necessarily perfect. It contains a unique song structure and I do believe that the B Section is much stronger than the first, both lyrically and production wise. It takes repeated listens before truly revealing it’s hidden gems. One could be forgiven for dismissing it at a first listen, and that lack of instant pull factor is hard to ignore and a crippling factor for this song. For instance. "Chanel" had more pull than this track and I cannot see "DHL" maintaining a similar listen rate to it.
Overall I think this a fair rating for "DHL." It certainly holds it’s own after repeated listens and it does signify, as well as reaffirm, the new era of alternative hip hop that Frank wants to embody. I feel like this track will find itself more within the confinement of an album, as well as if we ever get visuals, (which are highly unlikely). Only then might we see it blossom more than it does at this present moment. Regardless I think the track is solid and wonderfully unique in it's content. We have always caught glimpses of Frank's rap abilities but this song contains some iconic lyrics that will make their way onto countless Instagram bio for months to come.
If this is indeed the beginning of 'Frank season', I am curious to see where his music is going. I'll be honest in saying I do want more tracks that follow in vein of the more melodic songs we received on Channel Orange, but I am enjoying this alternative hip hop route and I truly believe he is at his happiest when pursuing that style. Regardless this might be the beginning of something wonderful and new, and like he said; it’s "coming soon, coming soon".