Lost: A Homage to Quentin Taraninto’s “Jackie Brown”
In his 2016 magazine project, Boys Don’t Cry, Frank Ocean listed 100 of his favorite films. On this list was Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 classic film Jackie Brown. Using this and Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch as inspiration, Frank would cultivate his most straightforward pop song. Straightforward in structure, yet layered as richly as you’d expect in a standard Ocean track, the ties between these two works and this song run deep.
A tempestuous relationship between a dealer and his mule fuels a story which sees them submerged in the world of crime and lust. Channel Orange’s “Lost” hypnotizes the listener with its tropical lush beat as it magically infuses the dark twisted reality of life as a mule who can’t dig themselves out of the underground.
This post was originally published on frankocean365.
It has been edited and reformatted here with permission from the author.
Jackie Brown, the titular character of Tarantino’s film adapted from Leonard’s book, works for a low-level Mexican airline as a flight attendant who smuggles money and cocaine for black-market dealer Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) from Mexico. As she gets caught up in the heated life of crime, Jackie contemplates doing a last set of runs to get herself out.
The track opens up with Frank describing his female protagonist as such:
Big full breasts on my baby”
Thus presenting her as someone who’s capable for the job. Her breasts serve as a means for smuggling goods. These lines are followed by an ad lib “(Yo we going to Florida)” which is a direct reference to the novel Rum Punch.
Although the movie takes place in Los Angeles, Rum Punch is set in West Palm Beach and Miami which are later mentioned in the chorus. Miami was once the cocaine capital of the world as in the ‘70s and ‘80s. During that time, it was home to a series of drug wars between the DEA and the Medellin Cartel, therefore making Florida a hot spot for Frank and his mule to visit.
While Frank doesn’t state whether the mule in his song is a flight attendant, it is implied as he sings:
“A short plane ride
through the sky
You and I”
Both the protagonists in “Lost” and Jackie Brown are working day jobs in which they’re not seeing the kind of money they wish to see. Jackie Brown is working small flights to Mexico. The work of the mule in Frank’s song is unknown, but is implied to be unfulfilling.
“Boss ain’t working you like this
He can’t take care of you like this”
As “Lost” progresses, Frank and his mule have been successful in smuggling all around the world (Miami, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Spain, Los Angeles, India) but as the mule begins to feel overwhelmed by the lifestyle, she yearns to return to a normal life.
“I promise she’ll be whipping meals up for a family of her own some day”
The mule uses this as fuel to do their job, just one more time. This is mirrored with Jackie Brown as she’s fed up and wants to live a normal life without the constant fear of death and lack of closure. Jackie promises herself this final job for Ordell is definitely her last.
Frank references the movie here once again when he sings:
“Nothing wrong, with another short plane ride through the sky”
The flight duration from Mexico to Los Angeles is roughly 3 hours and 30 minutes which is the primary path Jackie flies in the movie.
The track ends on an open-ended note, as we hear the channels flip. There’s a quick snippet of a man saying “Manos Ariba!” which translates to “hands up!” in Spanish, a common phrase used by police to suspects upon arrival of a crime scene. This may imply that Frank and his mule were finally caught. In the movie, Jackie Brown is caught smuggling money and cocaine by detective Mark Dargus and ends up serving time.
By the end, both Jackie and Frank’s mule find themselves in a world run by greed, hypocrisy, and selfishness. They entered and left the world on the same terms, alone and without love.
“Lost” was accompanied by a music video directed by Francis Soriano documenting the “channel ORANGE” tour in the summer of 2012. It showcases Frank traveling and visiting countries, similar to the contents of the track itself.