After a four year wait, Frank Ocean decided to release a new and groundbreaking series of albums. The Rolling Stone stated that, “Ocean is a craftsman, and craftsmanship requires patience.” The singer, songwriter and rapper has left his fans scrambling for new music ever since his last album, “Channel Orange”. “Channel Orange” was released in 2012 and featured many of his most well known tracks, including “Thinkin Bout You” and “Super Rich Kids”.
To begin his new artistic breakthrough in the pop psychedelic genre, he released “Endless”, a visual album, on August 19 via Apple Music. The visual album was composed of 45 minutes worth of 12 songs, interludes, and video clips that included him in the studio. On top of that, the clips seemed to preview the rest of his work that would be released not too long afterwards. “Endless” fulfilled aesthetically pleasing clips just as well as it went on to be the first representation of his new work as an artist. It seemed to be just the beginning of four years worth of work towards his unique releases that had yet to come, almost proving that the process was fittingly endless.
The day after the release of “Endless”, Frank Ocean set up stands in New York, L.A., London, and Chicago for a magazine titled, “Boys Don’t Cry”. The magazine contained poems, short stories, fashion photos, interviews with other R&B artists, and a physical copy of his album titled “Blonde”.
“Blonde” captured Frank Ocean’s long walk through a lonely career after dropping off the face of the earth. It was unlike any other album dropped by him in past years. Each song was very atmospheric and filled with incomplete thoughts, almost like he was in a daze. Despite harsh criticism towards his sudden change in music, it came together as a more meaningful album.
In the first song, “Nikes”, he references the controversial topic of Trayvon Martin and moves on to talk about the lack of communication he has with his family. Frank Ocean is well known for his light touch on emotion and this song was a warm welcome home to the artist everyone was missing out on for so long.
“I ain’t a kid no more, we’ll never be those kids again” are lyrics from the song “Ivy”, which looks deeper into growing up and reflecting on mistakes from the past. This is one of the only songs on the album that seemed to look back in time to points in his life that people may have overlooked due to his career being overshadowed by his talent and the media’s labels on his sexuality. It brought a deeper understanding towards the idea that even though he broke society’s view on a man’s sexuality, he still struggles with gaining the acceptance of the people closest to him.
The interlude “Be Yourself”, introduced the act of being shunned for having bad habits. It’s a message from the mother of a childhood friend preaching about the influence of drugs and alcohol. “Don’t try to be like someone else, don’t try to act like someone else, be yourself. Be secure with yourself”, lyrics from the interlude. The woman repeats herself, as if she’s trying to send a clear message.
After the interlude, the songs become more and more hazy. They go on to talk about his use of drugs and the night-life he lives being famous. Although he talks a lot about social settings, he still seems to paint himself as an outsider. The entire album has a lot to do with his own solitude despite his fame and fortune. His song “Solo” touched base with forming self-love and debated the difference between being lonely versus being alone.
The album as a whole takes his career down a completely different path. He has reintroduced the idea that he will never be predictable, nor will he conform with what people expect from an artist like himself.
Kenzie Ross, Staff Reporter