This two-part, 10-minute R&B odyssey finds Ocean singing of both ancient Egypt and the present day. The song begins with a dream of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra and her ultimate betrayal. It switches to another doomed romance between the unemployed protagonist and his lonely strip club worker girlfriend, whom he calls Cleopatra. She lives in a sleazy room and works at club called The Pyramid. By the end of the song, the protagonist comes to a stark realization that her "love ain't free no more."
This was released as the second single from Ocean's debut album, Channel Orange. The tracks are a collection of fictitious tales, some inspired by two relationships Ocean was part of. "The work is the work," he told The New York Times. "The work is not me. I like the anonymity that directors can have about their films. Even though it's my voice, I'm a storyteller." Accordingly, his name is not on the album cover.
Large parts of Channel Orange were laid down at Eastwest Studio in Hollywood, in rooms where the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra recorded many years previously, and some of the equipment remains unchanged. Ocean produced the album primarily by himself with help from his close friend, writer/producer Malay, who co-wrote this song with Ocean. In what is surely a first for the canine world, Everest, Ocean's Bernese Mountain Dog, is credited as the executive producer.
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