Music is my oldest obsession. When I think back on all my boyhood infatuations and teenage fixations, music has survived a mountain of fleeting hobbies and momentary passions. Life is spent uncovering treasures, loving them dearly, and then moving on in search of shinier gold. I’ve lived within that cycle, moving from thing to thing the way nomads travel from place to place. Yet, the sound of music arrested me the moment it graced my ears and has yet to free me from its grasp. Nothing has transfixed my mind and soul like a good song, and nothing has been able to prove that magic exists like a great album. Writing allowed me to turn my obsession into a muse—the very subject at the center of all my writing.
Spend enough time listening to an artist and they reveal within their art the things they obsess over. Before he was on ESPN, I knew of Lil Wayne’s love for sports. It only takes one XV mixtape to understand his passion for comics. Frank Ocean doesn’t hide the fact he’s obsessed with cars, they are a huge part of his world. My very first introduction to the singer begins with a picture of a beautiful BMW E30. Before I heard his voice, before I saw his face, I knew that the singer had a taste for luxury cars and bright colors. The way that Frank has associated himself with cars is great branding, but on a deeper level, he simply turned an obsession into a muse within his art. To know Frank Ocean is to know his deep love affair with automobiles.
“Acura Integurl” feels like overhearing a conversation from the backseat of a car—a driver so engulfed in a moment of reflection with his passenger that he forgets you’re within earshot. Cars in his music aren't presented as trophies or symbols of wealth, they are the settings where his stories take place; bookmarks that take him back to a distinct memory from his past. When he sings of cars they are connected to a much deeper ocean of thought. It adds a layer of beauty to the whips, they are more than desirable items—they are time machines, his personal DeLorean DMC-12. The Lincoln Town Car that he sings of in “Swim Good” is just a fortress of solitude for him to confess his heartbreak within, no different than the back seat of the taxi that was home to his confessions on “Bad Religion.” The sports car mentioned on “Whip Appeal” is more about the love he trusts within his precious toy than the toy itself, exactly how in “Songs For Women” the car is the place where he wishes his girlfriend would play his music and not Drake and Trey Songz.
When you hear “White Ferrari,” the lyrics are so deeply drenched in emotion you almost forget the title. It doesn’t feel like being in a Ferrari, more like being pushed out of an airplane without a parachute. I pressed play expecting a gaudy, extravagant, overly opulent song that reflects the vehicle it’s named after. “White Ferrari” tells a story that could be lived out by all drivers. You could press the gas pedal of a Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla or Ford Focus and still feel like you have been in that driver seat. Cars are in the music, in the videos and on his Tumblr, but his biggest tribute for his love of cars was inside the Boys Don’t Cry magazine. He explains deeply about how much of his life has been spent in cars and the impact of his relationship with whips. On a deeper level, you can see all the little metaphors of his career that can be related to the art of driving. His obsession has been a source of inspiration and a necessary foundation for all that he’s created.
Frank’s passion for cars is also one of the few similarities that I see he has with Anderson .Paak. They don’t sing alike, they don’t rap alike, they don’t write alike, but they both have an obsession with bringing cars into their music. Anderson is far more low-key with his infatuation but based on how he sings about cars with such passion he must cherish them. I'm excited any time either artist releases a song titled after a car. For example, “Kutless,” on the Yes Lawd! album brings you into a world where there’s no separating love and the classic Oldsmobile. He’s highlighting the amount of space as a way of enticing a woman into making love within the American treasure. “I Miss That Whip,” a song that can be found on .Paak’s Venice album, is a beautiful ballad that finds the singer in mourning after breaking up with his former girlfriend. He doesn’t miss the girl, he doesn’t miss her warm bed, but he is still having trouble getting over her car. It’s rather humorous, but it’s sung with such seriousness it is convincing that he misses the transportation.
“Suede” doesn’t name a car, but the first verse beautifully details suede insides, candy paint and rims too gorgeous to speak on. It’s a car fitting of a pimp, and as the song continues it is easy to envision the singer driving toward a playa’s ball. The music video has a car worthy of a top model award―the cherry red beauty would be a worthy chariot for Pimp C. Maybe Anderson believed he was a pimp in a past life, it’s a lifestyle he tends to channel in his music. “So Slow,” the first song on his Anderson .Paak EP with Blended Babies, puts listeners shotgun in a Chevy driven by a fly pimp with coke up his nose. There’s a certain attitude—a certain swagger—that’s necessary to be a convincing pimp, and Anderson captures it perfectly. It’s sad how little promotion the Blended Babies EP received; it’s four incredible songs that you need in your collection.
Red Corvettes changed forever in 1983 after Prince released “Little Red Corvette.” It’s a song about having one night of magic with a beautiful, promiscuous woman. Prince was able to articulate the lust and rush and passion of sex with this woman and relate it to a car. Frank and Anderson both have the potential to become synonymous with the very cars they sing about. To see a BMW is to see Frank, to see a Cutlass is to see Anderson, the same way you see Prince when you see a little red Corvette.
By Yoh, AKA Yohsmobile, aka @Yoh31.