Frank Ocean returns to music! Fans have been waiting for four long years since releasing his nocturnal contemporary album Channel Orange.

 

Ocean teased fans with a Tumblr picture of him with a magazine titled, ‘Boys Don’t Cry‘. Fans were anticipating a music release, however, no album followed. It seemed as if all hope was lost! Low and behold Frank released another image showing random dates and again titled ‘BDC’.

 

 

Again another anti- climax, fans were angry and internet trolls went in on Frank Ocean, with thoughts his album would never be released. Then all of a sudden, last week, on Frank Ocean’s website and on Apple Music a random live-stream was shared with the world of a warehouse, no music to be heard but white noise.

 

What was Frank playing at?! Not only did the 28-year old singer/ songwriter drop a visual album called Endless, this followed with a free magazine in a select of central city pop-up shops, and then the main drop, a 17-track audio album Blonde.

 

In short ‘Endless’, it’s an artistic art project most likely used to create a buzz to get people talking about Frank Ocean again. Some could say that the music was not very organised and too casual, some fans were not completely impressed with the ‘Endless’ project. However, some could say that his falsetto range and vocals had improved since his last project ‘Channel Orange’.

 

The greatness about ‘Endless’ is that soulful singer Jasmine Sullivan was featured on a majority in the background.

 

Now let’s get onto ‘Blonde’. This album is stripped and displays raw emotion and simple instruments. Not what you would call a popular “R&B Album” it’s more similar to a modern-day Indie genre.

 

The musical change to this new project may be a shock to those are used to his ‘Channel Orange’ formula, but when you take a look at all the artist that took part in this project it begins to make sense. Artists such as Beyoncé, who is featured on ‘Pink + White,’ Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, James Blake, Jamie XX & also Andre 3000 who is featured on the ‘Solo Reprise’ track.

 

Take a look at the artists who contributed in the project!

 

frank ocean list

 

The ‘Blonde’ project is a deep emphatic, lyrically dynamic, introverted and complex audible album. Ocean’s music is almost like trying to figure out a mathematical equation. The album is not for those that like to listen without depth as it really takes a few turnarounds to understand the precis.

 

It seems Ocean does not really care if this album receives radio play, simply because the album is not commercial. The project deals with elements of emotionalism and dexterously linking that to masculinity. Frank has been open with his bi-sexuality explaining his love for a man and a woman. Noting ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ from his previous album, a song written as an apology to an unnamed lover.

 

This project will put the listener in the driving seat of Frank’s fragmented poetry infused-mind, exploring break-ups and disappointment. Going deeper Ocean gives us a clue in the video for lead single ‘Nikes’ when he said “There are two versions”. Some could say it was a dual meaning BLOND and BLONDE. However the two versions could relate to the two versions of  ‘Nikes’ or/and two versions of his new album project Endless, and BLONDE.

 

BLOND meaning masculine and BLONDE meaning feminine.

 

The album and visual art deals with hyper-masculinity vs feminine. How do we know this, because the visual offering for ’Nikes’ sees Frank with a face full of glitter and make up. This is also showcased in the magazine publication, ‘BDC’, presenting two versions of Boys Don’t Cry one is masc the other is feminine.

 

Frank-Ocean-Blonde-teamcurtains

 

In most of the tracks Frank moves between the idea of masculine and feminine, gay and straight, and he is very direct. An example of this is shown in an interlude, ‘Good Guy’ where he mentions being on a date at a gay bar which didn’t work out, the conversation continues with two guys who speak on no longer having a “Bitch”.

 

Let’s put focus on the highlight of the album for the Beyoncé fans – they will love this up-tempo summer anthem ‘Pink +White’. Their two vocals blend beautifully together and shows resemblance to ‘Close To You’ by 60’s POP band Carpenters. Another great feature on the album is the Kendrick Lamar featured-track ‘Skyline To’, which is a romantic poetic take on love.

 

When mention of Andre 3000 being on the album, fans were expecting a ‘Pink Matter‘ Part 2. However it’s Andre 3000 on his own with a very emotionally, lyrically charged on different political and social issues. The main thing that all fans picked up is the indirect reference to Drake, perhaps…who knows?

 

“After 20 years in / I’m so naive, I was under the impression that every wrote their own verse / It’s coming back different…and yeah, that sh*t hurts me.” Damn.

 

Solo’, which is a reference to masturbation and ‘Self-Control,’ references even more sexual themes. These two songs embrace his sexual freedom. Both songs are great lyrically. Another song which stands out is ‘Siegfried’. Although the meaning of the song is not clearly defined, it’s beautifully laced in deep guitar and airy vocals. The second half Frank recites spoken word which reflects truth, bravery and Nirvana (Buddhist concept) having listeners drawn in by his reflective stance on life.

 

Now, Frank is not the first artist to work with gospel artists, Kanye West recently featured Kirk Franklin on his Life of Pablo album. Speaking of Yeezy, he is one of the many artists who has tweeted in support of this new album:

 

 

Gospel artist and pastor Kim Burrell is featured on the album and their collab is amazing to say the least. Frank digs deep with soul for this one, so close your eyes and imagine sitting in church with an organ reflecting on God’s grace. Burrell’s acrobatic vocals fit, although some fans took to social media to voice their concerns about the conflict of interest. Knowing that Ocean is a bi-sexual man, “Why is she even on the album?” some may ask.

 

https://twitter.com/bassobelcanto/status/767151194590543873

 

That’s a question only she can answer!

 

The album is refreshingly great, but not many will appreciate the artistic value of the album as it opposes controversial mainstream music. Overall album rating 7/10.

 

https://soundcloud.com/goodmac/sets/frank-ocean-blonde-frank-ocean-blond

 

What did you think of the album?

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Dwain