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Frank Ocean - Novacane Review

Updated: Feb 12

Novacane - Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean in 2011 released Novacane, now an absolute classic. Due to to its stripped back beat alongside his now traditional staple of R&B vocals flipping between singing and rap, I know a lot of artists do that but nobody does that like Frank.

Mainly melodic in his craft Frank talks about a personal connection he made with someone at Coachella whilst he weaves in some pop culture references such as Eyes Wide Shut and Stanley Kubrick. This track is a vibe, if you missed this get on it.⁣

Listen to Novacane By Frank Ocean

Novacane: A Haunting Exploration of Numbness and Dissociation

Frank Ocean's "Novacane" isn't merely a song; it's a visceral journey into the seductive embrace of emotional numbness and the hollowness that lies beneath. Released in 2011 as part of his debut mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, "Novacane" quickly gained cult-like status and became a signature piece within Ocean's repertoire for its evocative lyrics, stark soundscape, and unsettling intimacy.

Beyond the Surface: Deconstructing the Lyrics

At its core, "Novacane" speaks of a young woman, likely a dental student, who numbs herself with both literal novocaine and a hedonistic lifestyle. The song, narrated from her perspective, offers fragmented glimpses into her world - allusions to sex work, drug use, and materialism paint a picture of surface-level distractions that mask a profound emptiness.

Ocean's lyrics are as poetic as they are chilling. "Cocaine for breakfast, yikes" stands out as a nonchalant line disguising a problematic reality. Words like "flip on a tripod" and "little red light on"  imply the woman's involvement in filming herself, both sexually and potentially as she uses drugs. Yet, there's also a disconnection inherent in the imagery – she films herself to capture moments she seems unable to genuinely experience.

The refrain, "Numb the pain, Novocaine," cuts like a mantra. In a world overflowing with stimulation, she finds a twisted sense of peace in deadening her senses, her emotions. It's this desire for an escape from feeling that resonates universally, especially in our modern era driven by hyper-connectivity and constant pressures.

Sonic Atmosphere: A Soundscape of Isolation

The production of "Novacane," handled by Tricky Stewart, aligns perfectly with the lyrical themes. There's a pervasive minimalism, a spaciousness that mirrors the emotional hollowness the song explores. The beat is understated, almost lethargic, punctuated by icy synths and sparse percussion.

At the song's halfway point, this bleak ambiance takes an even darker turn. The music drops away, replaced by a chilling, distorted voice speaking lines that range from philosophical to absurd. This segment further plunges the listener into a space of disassociation, mimicking the drug-induced detachment the protagonist seeks.

Legacy and Cultural Impact

"Novacane" isn't an easy track to stomach. It's uncomfortable, jarring, and leaves a lingering sense of unease. Yet, that's precisely the point.  Frank Ocean isn't sugarcoating experiences; he's inviting us to examine the darkest corners of escapism and self-destruction – tendencies that exist and thrive even within the pursuit of pleasure and success.

Years after its release, "Novacane" remains a touchstone in modern alternative R&B and hip-hop. It has influenced countless artists who have tapped into similar themes of disillusionment and explored darker, more complex sonic textures. Ocean's willingness to challenge conventional narrative and musical structures helped pave the way for a generation of artists unafraid to be raw and introspective.

Frank Ocean Novacane Meaning

"Novacane" by Frank Ocean is a song that delves into themes of numbness, emptiness, and the pursuit of pleasure amidst a backdrop of drug use and casual encounters. In the first verse, Ocean describes feeling disconnected and emotionless, attributing it to the superficiality of his surroundings. The references to Viagra, autotuning, and muted emotions highlight a sense of detachment and artificiality in his experiences, as he navigates through a world devoid of genuine connection.

The chorus introduces the concept of "novacane" as a metaphor for numbness and escape. Ocean expresses a desire to be numb, to feel nothing, and seeks temporary relief from his emotional void through physical pleasure. The repetition of "love me now, when I'm gone, love me none" underscores the transient nature of his relationships and the emptiness he feels despite the physical intimacy.

In the second verse, Ocean continues to explore the theme of numbness, describing his lifestyle of excess and indulgence. Cocaine for breakfast and a bed full of women represent his attempts to fill the void within him, but ultimately, they leave him feeling even more disconnected. The reference to Stanley Kubrick and "eyes wide shut" alludes to the idea of chasing pleasure without truly understanding its consequences or finding fulfillment.

The bridge and outro further reinforce the idea of seeking numbness as a way to escape pain and emotional turmoil. The repetition of "novacane" and "numb the pain" reflects Ocean's desperation to dull his emotions and find solace in temporary relief. Despite the allure of pleasure and physical sensation, he remains unable to truly connect with others or feel genuine emotion.

"Novacane" is a poignant exploration of the complexities of human emotion and the fleeting nature of pleasure. Through vivid imagery and introspective lyrics, Frank Ocean invites listeners into his world of superficiality and longing, offering a raw and honest portrayal of the emptiness that can accompany the pursuit of pleasure.

Frank Ocean Novacane Lyrics

[Verse 1]

I think I started something

I got what I wanted

Did-didn't I can't feel nothing, superhuman

Even when I'm fucking, Viagra popping

Every single record, autotuning

Zero emotion, muted emotion

Pitch corrected, computed emotion, uh-huh

I blame it on the model broad with the Hollywood smile, ow

Stripper booty and a rack like wow

Brain like Berkeley

Met her at Coachella

I went to see Jigga, she went to see Z Trip, perfect

I took a seat on the ice cold lawn

She handed me a ice blue bong, whatever

She said she wanna be a dentist really badly

She's in school paying

For tuition, doing porn in the Valley

At least you workin'

But, girl, I can't feel my face

What are we smoking anyway?

She said, "Don't let the high go to waste"

But can you taste a little taste?


Novacane, baby, baby

Novacane, baby, I want you

Fuck me good, fuck me long, fuck me numb

Love me now, when I'm gone, love me none

Love me none, love me none

Numb, numb, numb, numb

[Verse 2]

Sink full of dishes, pacin' in the kitchen

Cocaine for breakfast, yikes

Bed full of women, flip on a tripod

Little red light on shootin'

I'm feelin' like Stanley Kubrick

This is some visionary shit

Been tryna film pleasure with my eyes wide shut

But it keeps on movin'

I blame it on the model broad with the Hollywood smile

Stripper booty with a rack like wow

I'll never forget ya

You put me on a feelin' I never had

Never had, never had (Never)

And ever since I've been tryna get it back

And pick it up and put it back

Now I'm something like the chemist on campus

But there's no drug around

Quite like what I found in you, you

I still can't feel my face

What am I smokin' anyway? (Ahh)

She said, "Don't let the high go to waste" (Ooh)

But can you taste a little taste?


Novacane, baby, baby (Ohh)

Novacane, baby, I want you

Fuck me good, fuck me long, fuck me numb

Love me now, when I'm gone, love me none

Love me none, love me none

Numb, numb, numb, numb


Novacane, novacane, novacane

Novacane, novacane (Ohh)

Numb the pain, numb the pain, numb the pain

Numb the pain, numb the pain (Ohh, ohh)

Novacane, novacane, novacane

Novacane, novacane

For the pain, for the pain (Ohh, ohh, ohh)

Novacane, novacane (Ooh)


Pretty girls involved with me

Making pretty love to me, pretty

Pity, pity

All the pretty girls involved with me

Making pretty love to me, pretty

Pity, pity

I can't feel a thing, I can't feel, I can't feel a thing

I can't feel a thing, I can't feel, feel, feel, feel her

I can't feel, feel her

Novacane, novacane, novacane

I can't feel, feel her

Novacane for the pain, for the pain

I can't, can't feel her

Feel her, feel her, ohh

Novacane, novacane-cane


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