To me, the genius in great music is how an artist can take something simple and create something extravagant from it. Like good poets, I feel like a good artist can look at a marble and see perfection, see a universe in the unique swirl of colors, and that’s what I got from Frank Oceans track “Crack Rock” from the channel ORANGE album.
Ocean built a double entendre of the crack rock and the crack pipe device that is used to smoke it. He even referenced it as a “glass dick,” a common reference because you’re really sucking out of a long pipe, and that term has been popularized through the 1991 film New Jack City.
He opens up describing the loneliness that accompanies the drug, followed with the feeling of insignificance of being addicted to it. Just imagine being psychologically strapped in a room where your only company is the one substance that brings you pain and pleasure simultaneously. That “blonde girl” that has no love and shows you no love, but you are so infatuated that you quit the world and hand your mind, body, and soul to her instead.
Ocean cleverly placed the setting of this story in the “middle of Arkansas” where the capitol and most popular city is Little Rock. Actual crack looks like little chips off of a bar of soap and the chips are about the size of a small rock, hence crack being referenced as “little rock.” A very fitting place Ocean has set for the track.
The chorus is honestly my favorite part, and in my opinion shows the genius of Frank Ocean:
“Hitting stones in glass homes/ You’re smoking stones in abandoned homes/ You hit them stones and broke your home/ Crack rock crack rock/ Crack rock crack rock…”
This is the double entendre that I spoke of earlier. Being relevant, and obvious to the track, it speaks of how the addict is smoking crack and from doing so has destroyed their home, life, etc. Smoking crack plays as a metaphor of literally taking a baseball bat and slugging rocks throughout your glass household because in the end they serve the same purpose and conclude to the same results, a broken home.
The second verse illustrates the downfall of the main character. “Shucking and jiving/ stealing and robbing,” all to get that next fix, how family has turned their back and trust has been lost, and even how sex isn’t even an option anymore because that character is now undesirable, “But the freaks ain’t trying to sleep with cracky,” most likely starting to display the ill physical features of being a crack addict.
And then an altercation with a police officer occurs in the third verse where Ocean trades off between the fiend and the officer every other line.
Addict: Crooked cop, dead cop.
Officer: How much dope can you push for me?
Addict: Crooked cop, dead cop.
Officer: You’re no good for community.
Addict: Fucking pig, get shot.
Officer: 300 men will search for me.
Addict: My brother, get popped.
And don’t know one hear the sound/ Don’t no one hear the rounds (gunshot)/ Don’t know one hear the shells (gunshot)/ Don’t no one hear the sound/ Don’t no one disturb the peace for riot/ Don’t no one disrupt nirvana/ Don’t no one want to blow the high of crack rock…”
That’s powerful. It really illustrates the insignificance and unimportance of the main character from the first verse. It painted such a vivid picture of how this addict was murdered by a crooked police officer and nothing stopped; everything just kept on going as it was. The wildest part is that it’s blatant ignorance because nobody wanted to “blow their high” on another dead crack fiend.
And the most interesting part of this whole song is the twist that Ocean put in the third to last line of the song. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this song and placed images in your head of what was going on, and maybe you’ve noticed that I reframed from using pronouns whenever I spoke on the main character. But in the last three lines of the song, gender is given to the main character.
“How’s the feeling girl?/ How’s the gutter doing?/ Crack rock.”
I feel as though not one person on this planet expected this to be a woman. Even when I listened I pictured a skinny man in a dirty white tee, not a female with a deteriorating body. But this story ends with a woman who suffered from a drug addiction in a gutter, alone; a brilliant display of the affects of hard drugs.