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Song: "Pyramids"

It is natural that Ocean's most intricate song produces one of his best lyrical explorations. “Pyramids” is a cross-pollination of ancient African history and the modern “black woman” of Frank's vision. Comparing Cleopatra, a stripper, and Egyptian heritage, the song forms a powerful vote of support for the oft-forgotten women mentioned only casually in the lyrics of Ocean and other rappers. “Pyramids” puts Ocean in the role of a pimp, disrespecting women by trade but secretly calling for them to regain their pride.

Recalling the infamous story of Cleopatra's extravagance, particularly before her supposed suicide, Ocean describes both the dress and appearance of a queen and a stripper. Cleopatra, though not actually buried within a pyramid, lived and worked by the structures, associating the pride of Egypt with the power of women. Similarly, strippers dance at the Luxor pyramid in Las Vegas, a facade of Egyptian heritage hiding the evil misogyny within. Cleopatra's heels leave her far ahead of her male counterparts, but the heels of the stripper leave her easily caught by her pursuer, a stark contrast to the ancient power of the Ptolemy queen. Ocean may not be the hero in this story, but his revival of the Nubian Queen movement of the De La Soul era is refreshing and unexpected, leading “Pyramids” into a realm well-received by women and hip-hop veterans alike.