Frank Ocean proves once again that you cannot rush perfection with his visual album Endless and Blonde. The original Odd Future crooner dominated the music world with the critically-acclaimed Channel Orange in 2012 along with his significant mixtape nostalgia/ultra. After bravely revealing that his hit single “Thinkin About You” was about a man, Frank Ocean took a hiatus after touring, going back to school and driving fans crazy. After the four-year lull of teasing singles like “Mezmerize” and “Hero,” heartfelt Tumblr posts, and the reveal of his previous title “Boys Don’t Cry,” fans were truly fearful that he would never deliver. But after four years of utterly maddening silence, Frank Ocean delivered another masterpiece, a true gift to music as each projects reminds us why Ocean’s sometimes nontraditional behavior has successfully reeled us in from the beginning.
A day after releasing his visual album Endless, Frank Ocean released his second studio album Blonde. Endless was originally 140 hours but was eventually cut down to 40 minutes. Frank is seen “building a stairway to heaven” as the ethereal soundtrack is played. The music is calming as his songs thrum through and watching him work is eerily intimate.
Similar to Ocean’s first album Channel Orange, Blonde features 17 tracks. Each song is uniquely different as it touches on different messages and tests new sounds and productions. Each track is crafted differently, tackling various conflicts and elements. Blonde is an innovative, bold, and imperfect album that showcases Ocean’s nontraditional views of music and emphasizes his levels of maturity. Weaving a story, the artist warns us of the perils of peer pressure, staying to true to oneself, and distancing yourself from materialism. There were a lot of individuals who helped him put Blonde together: Andre 3000 (who raps on “Solo (Reprise)”), Pharrell Williams, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West–who hilariously wrote a poem about McDonald’s for the ‘zine. Admitting that he was not completely oblivious to his fans suffering, Ocean wrote to his fans on his Tumblr after the release, saying: “I HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE MAKING ALL OF THIS. THANK YOU ALL. ESPECIALLY THOSE OF YOU WHO NEVER LET ME FORGET I HAD TO FINISH. WHICH IS BASICALLY EVERY ONE OF YA’LL. HAHA. LOVE YOU.”
His first track “Nikes” comes along with a true artistic majesty of a music video. Vivid in color, truly enthralling and outlandish, it is what you would expect from Frank Ocean but more. With splashes of gold, girls swimming in water tanks like mermaids, and glitter rain, Ocean entrances us once again with his creativity and sheer brilliance. The video also pays respect to the dead. Pimp C is mentioned, A$AP Rocky appears holding a picture of late A$AP founder A$AP Yams, and Frank laments the death of Trayvon Martin, singing, “RIP Trayvon, that n***a looks just like me.” If you have not posted Ocean’s first line in “Ivy” (“I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me”) under any of your Instagram pictures, you are obviously slacking. With a truly sweet, dreamy quality to his sound, Ocean reminds us why we fell in love with him in the first place. He always describes turbulent relationships, a tugging back-and-forth, yet he always adds a romantic element to his music, a yearning for acceptance and love that we can all relate to.
“Pink + White” is another addicting track–a dreamy melody that will leave you in a state of bliss. Ethereally raw emotions about love, Ocean compares it to heavenly feelings. In his moments of positivity and romance, he reveals conflicts both external and internal once again. Also, Beyoncé appears in the track, harmonizing with Ocean in the background and adding to the beautiful sound.
Mama Ocean has all of us feeling guilty in “Be Yourself” as she adamantly preaches the faults of smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. She advises her son to be true to himself, not be like other people his age. Mama Ocean chastises young adults who use drugs and alcohol, deeming that it will affect their interests and lives. The love in her voices and her concern is heartfelt but also stresses the theme of rejecting materialism. Ocean switches from faster-paced songs like “Solo” to slow and sensual songs like “Self Control,” “Close to You,” “Godspeed,” and “Skyline to” where he laments how fast summer goes by. In his track “Nights,” Ocean reveals how he had to pause his education when Hurricane Katrina hit. After the devastation that still haunts New Orleans, Frank then turned to music. The song is addicting and honest, resembling the night with its slow and intimate sound. Andre 3000 surprises fans with his spitfire verses in the track “Solo(Reprise).” A surprising but pleasing twist, fans have missed Andre 3000’s energy and have become impatient for the original Outkast member to release more music.
The reception for Blonde has been mostly amazing with fans pouring their love and acceptance for Frank Ocean all over social media. There are a rare few who make the mistake of comparing Blonde with Channel Orange, but they need to understand that Frank Ocean composed music for different parts of his life and the sounds will never be similar. Blonde is another patient, beautifully crafted album from Ocean, and he retains the ability to steal our hearts and love with his heavenly sweet voice. Hopefully, his next project won’t take four years–a girl can dream!
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Why We Are Loving Frank Ocean’s Album ‘Blonde’: Featured image courtesy of Boys Don’t Cry