Written by Ryan Lyons
Frank Ocean’s a busy man. After ducking the public and teasing his fans with rumored release dates, we all began to wonder if the album may or may not even come at all. This summer he finally managed to drop two albums both via Apple Music; Endless a visual album which finished his contractual obligations with Def Jam, and Blonde in addition to a print publication. These releases signal his freedom from the Clancy’s management, Def Jam, and a more spiritual freedom as well.
It should come as no surprise that the music is exceptional. In his relatively small catalog and collaborative efforts Frank has made his impression felt on music. Channel Orange became a pivotal record in time because of Ocean’s uncanny ability to describe his feelings and the feelings of others. His battle with unrequited love on “Thinkin Bout You” or the pitfalls of being spoiled on “Super Rich Kids”. Similarly, on Blonde Ocean takes a moment to reflect on a period of his life. Much of the things that he was dealing with on Channel Orange, and the effects of his behaviors and the behaviors of those aroud him.
Much like it’s predecessor’s Blonde is more defined by its narrative arc than one song. The key in this record is Ocean’s ability to point out his own vulnerabilities without refrain, washing his life’s transgressions in the melody of church organs, confessionals, and mother to son conversations to see it through. On “Solo”, Frank steps from behind the church podium and into the the alter. Muddy organs, guitar llicks, and On “Solo (Reprise)” Andre 3000 provides a stellar guest verse that epitomizes the soul of Ocean’s record. On Frank’s second Andre feature since “Pink Matter” 3 Stacks addresses the state of black america, the rap game, and his personal life seemingly without taking a break for a breath. Ocean’s relationship with the church, sexuality, and manhood all come full circle on this record.
“When people become weed heads they become sluggish, lazy, stupid and unconcerned.” - Franks Mom, “Be Yourself”
These new narratives recall the broad paintstroke songwriting of Stevie Wonder recognized with the elongated bridges of N.E.R.D. This attention to detail “Pink+White” where the bridges are thick enough to inspire a car ride to another city. “Skyline”, “Pink + White”, “White Ferrari” and “Nights” choose itself as the single on his sophomore project with it’s rolling piano keys and kick drum and trapped out, slurred delivery. In between the records, Frank chooses a message from his mother and a recount of a social media story to further prove the ills that are currently facing popular culture. These personal accounts help illustrate the message within his music and the view. The music is his tool to release those emotions. If Channel Orange was a catholic church confessional, Blonde is a tell all book release.
Blonde gives us more courage to be ourselves, drop the gause of so called masculinity and in it’s place a real person. Who gives a fuck if Franks brave enough to be what they deam as a man. He’s brave enough to be a real person, and in the world’s endless stream of persona, fame and “independence”, he’s taking that dark tunnel toward uncovering himself. What Frank’s speaking about here is the pitfalls of life, celebrity and social media. The weed induced cloud he’s created for himself to stay away from it. Yet and still there’s beauty and love in it all.