November 18, 2016
Frank Ocean started his music career in 2008 with his independent mixtape Lonny Breaux. Shortly after that he joined hip-hop group Odd Future and began to receive public recognition with his debut studio album, channel ORANGE. It received critical acclaim and gave Frank a following. Since then Frank Ocean has been off the scene.
People have been questioning his disappearance and asking for a new album. In April this year he said a new album would be released in July rumored to be called Boys Don’t Cry. It was revealed that was his new record label, and the promotion helped him launch Endless, his video album. On August 20th, 2016 he released an album called Blonde. It contains 17 new songs, and consists of a soft flowing R&B genre.
On his website, boysdontcry.co, Blonde is described as “post- R&B that slips into your bloodstream.” However, when I listen to the album, I can’t help but feel differently. The album starts on a rather slow and savory song called “Nikes.” The vocals for most of the song are nasally and higher pitched, which is an odd approach appropriately fitting into his style of music. Despite the strange vocals, the song serves as an intro to the rest of the album. Many of the other songs on the album keep a very soft tone also, such as “Ivy,” “Skyline to,” “White Ferrari,” and “Futura Free.”
One of the most memorable songs on the album is “Self Control;” it makes you feel the loneliness and sadness he expresses. I imagine a time when a split has torn someone apart and you stay wanting things to have worked out. It starts out with another interesting intro and proceeds to keep the cool vibe in throughout the song as well. The song “Solo” is interesting as the title is a double entendre: dual meaning of solo and so low. Its lonely feelings comes from many different places and the effort and emotional journey of coping with life. It reflects on the depressing and loveless times in one’s life.
While the album is very delicate there are also two monologues: “Be Yourself,” which is a voicemail his mother left him telling him to be careful in college and to not do drugs or alcohol, and “Facebook Story,” a recording of his friend, Sebastian, talking about an experience where social media has effected a relationship he has had. Like the skits in his album channel ORANGE, they make you think about these real topics and issues like drug use, social media, and money.
Overall, I feel that the album does sound more soothing than Frank Ocean’s previous works and does not disappoint. Ocean’s different style of music continues, as in the past he adds many different vocal styles and excerpts of speech into his songs. He has a very different way of organizing his music and that is what makes his music so unique. His music focuses more on his voice than on the background music. And that is what brings his fans to keep coming back.