“In the four years spent away from being an active performing artist, Frank Ocean lived.”
I wrote a piece for Billboard about the crazy anticipation and rush fans put on Frank Ocean to release new music after being relatively silent since his Channel Orange debut in 2012.
Over the weekend, Frank dropped new two projects–a proper sophomore album called Blonde and a visual album, Endless. My story essentially is about how good things come to those who wait when you’re dealing with an artist the caliber of Ocean. Here’s an excerpt from it:
These things take time. And now that it’s out (finally!), it’s clear that Ocean’s was well-spent. In those exaggerated, agonizing years that fans complained about what he was doing while not feeding their voracious appetites for his particular brand of mood music, it’s clear that his travels, explorations, extensive introspection and, yes, even the moments that he seemed to just be goofing off, equated to him making another masterpiece.
Can you tell that like the album? Well, it’s pretty damn great. I’m still digging into it, Genuising lyrics, hearing interesting sounds in the background and trying to piece together storylines. If I have to wait another four years for his third album, I gladly will knowing it’ll be Orange or Blonde quality (though I, of course, hope it doesn’t take that long).
Here’s a bit that was left on the editing floor of the Billboard story about Frank’s artistic growth:
In all that time “off,” he was growing, if not in that obvious way of a wider octave range, definitely in terms of self-assurance and confidence in his own skin. Look no further than the “Nikes” video for evidence. Ocean sits in front of his car dressed casually, except that he’s wearing eye liner dramatically stylized around his lids. Later in the visual he wears a white Balmain jumpsuit adorned in pearls.
His faces shimmers with sweat glueing gold glitter all over. He’s an angelic figure of sorts rolling on a theater stage as the devil tap-dances in the balcony (it’s worth noting that Frank’s lips appear to have smudged rouge lipstick on them). He’s making grander statements, revealing more of himself than ever before through his art. Certainly more than he could or would have years ago. In that regard, Frank’s return yields a greater result than that of, say, a Justin Timberlake or an Adele, who both took several years off before releasing albums.
My current favorites from Blonde are “Nights,” “Self Control” and “Close to You.” I’m sure that’ll change in due time. Go give it a listen a let me know what you think of it.