Label: Tan Cressida, Columbia Records
Producer: Frank Ocean & RandomBlackDude
When "Sunday," the two-hander from Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean, finally splits open, when the big organ riff falls out like at morning mass and the rest of the drum kit starts snapping, Earl goes in: "State to state for the profit, it ain't a stain on me, nigga/My momma raised me a prophet, I play for dollar incentive." The rhyming of profit and prophet, the way the roar of the music confirms his anointment, is a clear high point on a sometimes sleepy album. But then Frank Ocean begins to rap and you start rethinking what it is exactly you want from the R&B singer—maybe you'd rather he rap.
In a thoroughly brilliant verse, Ocean takes a few bars out of his thoughts on Los Angeles and drugs to dismantle Chris Brown, "I mean he called me a faggot/I was just calling his bluff/I mean how anal am I gone be when I'm aiming my gun?" If he was feeling merciful, he might've stopped there. But he continues, "And why's his mug all bloody/That was a three on one?/Standing ovation at Staples, I got my Grammys and gold/Polda dots on my Brit, I'm not supposed to be stunting." And yet here he is, putting these words together about beating Brown for Best Urban Contemporary Album earlier this year, and alluding to the altercation between Brown and Ocean outside an L.A. recording studio. Ocean won, on every count. Now let's all stand up and applaud. —Ross Scarano