Meaning of “Novacane” by Frank Ocean

“Novacane” possesses a compelling and detailed narrative, one which relies heavily on the likes of metaphors and personalized colloquialisms and therefore is open to interpretation. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Frank Ocean's Novacane at

In such cases, especially when a track has proven as popular as “Novacane” has, the temptation always exists to overanalyze things. But via this analysis we will make an effort to simplify the storyline as much as possible since, underneath all of the poetic lingo, what’s being put forth doesn’t really come off as being that complicated.

What it all seems to boil down to is the vocalist concluding that he messed with a girl who, in the grand scheme of things, maybe he shouldn’t have. This is someone who the vocalist first meets at Coachella, with homegirl instantly proceeding to get him high on a questionable substance. 

By the looks of things, he was attracted to her solely for physical reasons, i.e. the shape of her body, thus connoting that maybe his judgment was clouded. Moreover, as expressed she’s engaged in the adult movie industry, albeit in the name of paying her way through school in the name of becoming a dentist. 

And that would in part explain why the track is titled “novacane”, which reads like a satirical spelling of Novocain, a drug commonly administered by dentists.

Thesis Sentiment of “Novacane”

But more specifically, “Novacane” induces a feeling of numbness. And the thesis sentiment of this track seemingly revolves around Ocean’s desire to “numb the pain”, which appears to have been done effectively since he “can’t feel a thing” and “can’t feel her”. 

And to reiterate, this isn’t the easiest song to understand. But all lyrics considered, it appears that what Frank is speaking to is his brief relationship with homegirl being one that desensitized him, both physically and emotionally.

For instance, from the onset he ‘blames’ the sensation of having no feeling, both sexually and as a singer, due to his interaction with her. 

And the second verse and outro seem to imply that as a result of this impromptu fling, in the aftermath Frank has degenerated into a playa, even though he evidently doesn’t approve of such a lifestyle. 

It may be that (as theoretically alluded to in the chorus) by dealing with that aforementioned lady the vocalist over-drugged and oversexed himself. So in the aftermath, whereas he may have become more attractive in the eyes of women, it’s as if Ocean can’t actually enjoy them.

“Novacane, baby, baby
Novacane, baby, I want you
F–k me good, f–k me long, f–k me numb
Love me now, when I’m gone, love me none
Love me none, love me none
Numb, numb, numb, numb”

To note, “Novacane” came out in 2011 as Frank’s first single, before it became public knowledge that he has homosexual leanings. And based on his documented dating history, Ocean can very much be considered gay. 

So if we wanted to go further out on a limb, we could perhaps even speculate that the relationship which highlights this song is what may have caused him to lose interest in women. But Frank has implied that this piece is by and large fictional.

When was “Novocane” released?

Frank Ocean officially released “Novocane” through Def Jam Records on 31st May, 2011. The song served as the first single from Ocean’s debut mixtape which is titled “Nostalgia, Ultra”.


Ocean composed “Novocane” with these writers:

  • Monte Neuble
  • Tricky Stewart
  • Victor Alexander

In addition to co-writing “Novocane”, Stewart also produced it. Actually he is the song’s sole producer.


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