Four years without any new Frank Ocean music has felt like an eternity – that’s not an exaggeration. That’s because within those four years Frank Ocean’s debut album, Channel Orange, never aged and it never left any of our playlists.
For most of us, it’s been the soundtrack to our self-reflecting formative years. It is so painfully true and accurate that at times it almost felt like the only person who may understand us was a twenty-something-year-old, New Orleans transplant living in Los Angeles, whose smile, style, voice, and lyrics captured and reflected who we were or wanted to be. It’s easy to fall in love with Frank Ocean, not only for his songs but him as a person, who has dealt with the same emotional struggles we all share but somehow was able to write about those feelings better than most of could, and so we obsessed about him – waiting for him to explain to us why we feel the way we do now.
So, four years passed, and on a beautiful weekend in August, Frank Ocean finally released his sophomore album, Blonde, whose artwork is simply the male version spelling, Blond – possibly a sign of gender-bending or a Bob Dylan reference, either way, the album was unsurprisingly worth the long wait. It picks up where Frank Ocean left off, but methodically evolves into something far more than the sum of its songs. And why wouldn’t it? It’s Frank Ocean and his maturity is starting to show in his music and lyrics that sometimes cut straight to the core of things that are hard to explain. And the long list of producers, contributors, and influencers certainly helps to make Blonde one of the most richly textured, atmospheric gorgeous albums in years, this includes a mega team composed of Andre 3000, The Beatles, Beyonce, Bon Iver, David Bowie, Elliott Smith, James Blake, Jamie XX, Jonny Greenwood, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams, Rick Rubin, Slow Hollows, Tyler The Creator, the 88 Keys, plus a ton more.
“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.” – Frank Ocean.
Frank Ocean is the brave, strangely wonderful wunderkind singer-songwriter whose fans will make him a proud symbol of their generation. Who spoke for them and to them, and who will also grow up with them. Blonde delivers on everything that we expected it would live up to. Mr. Ocean has created something special that grew organically from his own unworldly creativity, that at times may sound minimal but whose strength is just that, he says only what needs to be said.
The markings on your surface
Your speckled face
Flawed crystals hang from your ears
I couldn’t gauge your fears
I can’t relate to my peers
I’d rather live outside
I’d rather chip my pride than lose my mind out here
Maybe I’m a fool
Maybe I should move
And settle, two kids and a swimming pool
I’m not brave (brave)
I’m not brave
-Siegfried, Frank Ocean.
And there are many, many, many other great examples of this kind of writing throughout the album. However, for an album of this caliber, we encourage the listener to create their own experience when listening to it, and select what connects to them. The physical copy of the album slightly differs from the online version, either way – the album is finished and finally released.