Hallelujah, praise baby Jesus and all his disciples, wake up the Dalai Lama, Frank Ocean has released his new album.
Fair play, we’re a little late to be reviewing this but we had to ensure we listened to the whole thing at least 8 times before we could even think about commenting on it, and to be honest, it’s been a bloody treat.
Here’s the thing about Frank Ocean, he’s a mystery, and a pretty big one, down to the fact that he clearly doesn’t own or understand calendars, but also because he is possibly one of the greatest R&B/hip-hop artists of this decade, and yet he has only released one studio album, and we haven’t really heard from him since in 4 years.
He grew up in New Orleans, and in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit, was forced to move to LA where he was only planning on staying for 6 weeks. However he ended up establishing himself in the music industry, and there he has stayed. He’s worked with artists such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Andre 3000, whether it’s been collaborating with or writing songs for them. He began his role in the music industry fully when he joined the Hip-Hop group Odd Future, which includes members such as Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, The Creator – Ocean later worked with on Tyler’s music video "She" in 2011; and then appeared with Odd Future that year at Coachella; after this he was signed to Def Jam Records and has since proved himself as one of the greatest Hip-Hop solo artists to of this century.
Ocean has worked with Jay-Z and Kanye West on their collaborative album Watch the Throne – and helped write "No Church in the Wild" and "Made in America." After this, his most well-known song "Thinkin Bout You" got leaked online and then in 2012, his studio debut album Channel Orange was released. The album got him 6 Grammy nominations. The Guardian's Alexis Petridis pointed out the attraction and originally of the album by saying: “Perhaps this is R&B's Ziggy Stardust moment, where the controversy and publicity surrounding an artist's sexuality and the brilliance of his latest album combine to give his career unstoppable momentum”. He revealed before the album’s release that his first love was a man; however, he refuses to label his sexuality, which is fair play seeing as it’s no one’s business apart from his own. Channel Orange debuted number 2 on The Billboard 200, he did a tour and played at several festivals 2012-13, and then, nothing.
So basically, long story short, Frank Ocean has been making us listen to one album for four years whilst tormenting us saying he’s going to drop the new one about 5 times. Now, here it is, both a visual and audio album along with a magazine (which is now worth £300 on eBay and will probably go up FYI) and we will probably never see or hear from him ever again. Happy days.
And so here it is: Blonde. It’s different, it’s definitely Frank Ocean, and it’s bloody beautiful. Tracks such as ‘"Ivy"(which he performed in Munich back in 2013) will low-key make you cry if you’re feeling particularly shit, or hungover, or you’re just a mess like me. "Bikes"managed to have the same outstanding effect that he gave from "Pyramids", which is 9 minute epic featured on Channel Orange.
Blonde follows on from Channel Orange’s theme of running commentary, and it embarks on emotional moments. The track "Facebook Story" tells the tale of one French man, and how social media basically corrupted his relationship with a girl when he didn’t add her on Facebook whilst she was sat in front of him begging, because he didn’t see the point if she was in front of him already, why do you need to have that online too?
Sounds kind of lame if you describe it but the track itself is weirdly beautiful. The other commentary which stands out is "Be Yourself", sounding as though it’s Ocean’s mother leaving a voicemail to him, reminding him that she doesn’t want him to become a "weed head" because when that happens you are not yourself. It ends with "ok, I love you, Mom"– we cry. However the next song "Solo" is basically Ocean ignoring this advice. Frank Ocean is such an incredible artist that you're barely aware of Beyoncé on the track "Pink + White."No track has anything wrong with it, though some are more outstanding than others,they are all undoubtably beautiful.
Ocean has managed to build upon his trademark sound. if I have to wait another 5 years for his next album, I’ll do it.
Blonde was well worth the wait.