Frank Ocean’s Blonde has been out for nine months and I’m still in its unrelenting grip.
The visual album, Endless sucked me in immediately. I watched it three times in a row. Cinematic, monochrome hues fill a warehouse full of industrial equipment. Radiant, soft sounds pace back and forth, permeating through the mundane, the ghosts of Bowie and Prince, present and alive. A sonic blanket washes over you, warm and cool, as Ocean builds a spiral staircase, block by block.
It’s been a while since Channel Orange and it was worth the wait. A tree never forces its sap. We’ve all been waiting and Endless is ambient, sonic tapestry that paces from pure soul to experimental within seconds. It’s music. It’s sound and vision, free of genre and gender. And there, in the middle of it all, is Ocean, ebbing and flowing. We’re watching his evolution and it’s a beautiful thing.
Blonde, the follow up album tackles love, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and self-discovery including a voicemail at the beginning of “Be Yourself”, from the mother of one of Ocean’s good friends, Jonathan. Rosie Watson’s voicemail warns of the dangers of marijuana, cocaine and alcohol. “Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself and know that that is good enough”, which segues into “Solo”, a drug-filled adventure of unrequited love set to a beautiful Hammond Organ. “Self-Control’s” vulnerable harmonies pierce through the pain of a bad break-up.
Some nights you dance with tears in your eyes
I came to visit cause you see me like a UFO
That’s like never, cause I made you use your self control
And you made me lose my self control, my self control
You don’t need a guide to understanding “Blonde”. You just need to be human.
André 3000’s cameo alone on ‘Solo (Reprise)’ might make you want to go find a microphone just to drop it.
Frank Ocean just released a solo version of “Biking,” a song that first featured Jay Z and Tyler, the Creator. In Ocean’s independent fashion, he replaced Tyler’s and Jay’s verses with new verses for a new extended version. The original song dropped in April on Ocean’s blonded RADIO on Beats 1. The new version is available on all streaming platforms, and you can hear it below via Spotify.
“Bikin’, I’m bikin’, I’m bikin’ slo-mo/Maybe the four wheel excitin’ us mo’/I’m cold when the temperatures dip below 70s/How can I be burr around L.A. coast?/The diamonds is plural, the Tiffany brooch/On my lapel, at the table, I’m givin’ a toast/The first wedding that I’ve been in my twenties/Thinkin’ maybe someone is not somethin’ to own/Maybe the government got nothin’ to do with it/Thinkin’ maybe the feeling just comes and it goes,” Frank sings.
2017 is undoubtedly the year for Frank Ocean and I’m here for all of it.