Chances are if you have been on Twitter in the past month (or live on the planet Earth) you have probably noticed the hype leading up to and preceding Frank Ocean’s highly anticipated follow up to the 2012 smash, ‘Channel Orange’.
To sum it up as just another album release is almost blasphemous. The Louisiana native spent the last four plus years laying down the groundwork for what will probably be one of the most memorable albums of the summer, or even the year.
In a few words, Frank Ocean is a breath of fresh air, a renaissance man of sorts. He is the epitome of rock stardom in the year 2016; someone who is shrouded in mystery yet somehow bares it all and still leaves us wanting more. The recent passing of superstars like David Bowie and Prince leaves a huge pair of shoes empty, but Ocean fills them up with gusto.
In what seemed like the album event of the year, Mr. Ocean kept fans on edge, teasing them with a mysterious url that popped up and hinted at a project called “Boys Don’t Cry”. “I got twooooo versions,” proclaimed a statement on the website’s homepage. When the expected release date came and went, Twitter lit up with anticipation.
When his Apple exclusive project started to materialize late last week, fans were rewarded for their patience in the form of three separate projects; “Boys Don’t Cry” (a 360 page magazine featuring material from Kanye West, among others), a 45 minute video album called “Endless”, and then finally the long awaited sophomore effort “Blonde” (it’s worth noting that the video album has also been considered to be his sophomore album even though the songs haven’t become available as standalone audio tracks).
What fans were met with was an overload of Frank Ocean. His four years spent in silence were much atoned for by the spectacle of such a rollout, leaving some to wonder how long he will make us wait next. I’m sure it will be worth it.
The actual album itself is nothing short of perfect. The range of production is both diverse and well curated as shown on tracks like “Pink + White” (a collaboration with ex Odd Future compatriot Tyler the Creator), “Ivy” (a soggy ballad with a haunting guitar riff) and “White Ferrari” (a song for the true fanatics).
As per usual, the album is peppered with an interesting selection of audio clips and interludes including bits like “Be Yourself” and “Facebook Story” which both help to highlight the state of being in 2016, where external pressure to conform is at an all time high. These interludes offer little hope for the future, but instead force the kind of introspection that is conducive of personal growth.
Some of the standout cuts include the album’s lead single “Nikes” (which opens up the album with an alternate Frank; one with pitched up vocals, a character that becomes more familiar as the album progresses), the triumphant return of Andre 3000 on “Solo (Reprise)”, and the short but sweet “Good Guy”, a song that leaves you wanting more with its haunting but simple electric organ riff melodies.
The album itself is spectacular, and put simply: worth the wait. Anyone who is sorry about the state of popular music in 2016 hasn’t heard songs like “Solo” or the epic finale “Futura Free”, which showcase both his ability as a songwriter and his ear for unique and memorable production.
To sum it up; thank you Frank Ocean, the world will never be ready for you.
But we will catch up eventually.