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People often use the saying “Good things come to those who wait,” when trying to comfort themselves into being complacent. However, that is not the case for Frank Ocean. Ocean released his sophomore album on August 20th, 2016, Blonde which makes four years since the release of Channel Orange. Safe to say Ocean wasn’t just sitting around these past four years as it is evident in this body of work. With credits on the album ranging from Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce, it is no surprise that the album takes you on a journey in a way that only Ocean can. When listening to the album, go in with an open-mind. If there is one thing about Ocean that we know for sure– it is his unpredictability.
Ocean didn’t hold back any ideas but after keeping fans waiting for so long, it was only right that he would have a lengthy track list: seventeen songs to be exact. Each song on the album sounds nothing like the one before it. With beats produced by Pharell Williams and much more, the way it is produced is quite breathtaking. Kanye West is another artist credited towards the album and after listening to the album from start to finish, his influence on Ocean is noticeable. With interludes such as: “Be Yourself” and “Facebook Story” it gives off the feeling of West’s first album, The College Dropout and his most recent The Life of Pablo.
Ocean shows that one can’t exactly guess what his mindset is going to be as each song has a different meaning. He touches on topics that are important in this generation. For example, the idea of what it means to be a black man walking in today’s society. Ocean says on the introductory track “Nikes,” “R.I.P Trayvon that ni**a look just like me.” He touches on the damage social media has on relationships in “Facebook Story.” She thought because I didn’t accept her [on Facebook] she thought I was cheating.
There are moments on the album that make you smile like a kid in the candy store as you wonder to yourself, “Did Frank Ocean just read my mind?” With the most talked about track since the album’s release, “Ivy,” it hits home the most. With the opening line simply stating, “I thought I was dreaming when you told me you loved me, it instantly draws the listener’s attention. With the simplicity in that line, Ocean’s sentimental yet transparent voice, one is able to fall in love with his vulnerability. In that song alone, Ocean makes it okay to be human and have emotions. One might even say boys actually do cry. Vulnerability is shown again on “Godspeed” when Ocean says “I will always love you how I do.” Ocean gave us some entertainment with Andre 3000’s feature as he raps on the beat quickly, sharp and honestly.
Trying to compare the album to Channel Orange feels wrong as they are both uniquely beautiful. There are feelings of a sequel with “Seigfried” to “Bad Religion” and “Futura Free” to “Pyramids” which felt like a giveaway to loyal fans.
Looking at the bigger picture of the album, Ocean doesn’t want to be defined. This is evident through the album art. It is a picture of Ocean with green hair. Green is interesting as it is not labeled as a female or male color, it humbly rides both waves. It is interesting how Ocean’s hair color ties to what he is saying. He doesn’t want to be tied down and is almost afraid at one point. As one of his lyrics point out that “he isn’t brave” and sometimes wants to conform to what would be easily accepted by society. He gives the example of settling down with two kids.
“Be yourself and know that that’s good enough…Be secure with yourself…Do not smoke marijuana, do not consume alcohol” said on interlude of “Be Yourself” leaves a lasting feeling for the rest of the album. Is Ocean just on an emotional high or just a drunk kid going through the motions on the album? Is that why his words are very honest, pure, and random? No one is more honest than a drunk man and his honesty is shown throughout each song on this album.
So on a scale of one through ten, ten being the album was definitely worth the four-year wait, the album gets a solid nine. So yes, if you’re willing to throw all ideas out the window, listen with your heart and mind, then give the album a listen. You will enjoy the different waves of the ocean that Ocean takes you on; because just like the Ocean, you never know when it is going to make a splash.