Waiting for Frank
Frank Ocean sent a glaring message to the music industry in 2016.
On August 19th, he released his long awaited follow-up to Channel Orange in the form of a 45-minute visual album titled Endless. Released as a streaming only video, the avant-garde project fulfilled Ocean’s recording contract with Def Jam, allowing him to release his actual studio album, the critically-acclaimed Blonde, on Apple Music for $20 million.
Ocean finessed the industry in a way no artist had before, showing he was not willing to compromise when it came to his creative vision.
Blonde quickly became a cultural phenomenon for its introspective lyrics and unconventional yet progressive sounds. Inspired by heartbreak, loss, and trauma, Ocean contemplates emotion and masculinity over languid, minimalist production.
Given how tumultuous this year has been, the TL has been flooded with cries for new music from the man widely regarded as the greatest artist of the generation, with pleas ranging from “I’ll sacrifice one of my closest friends for a new Frank album” to “I am once again begging for new Frank Ocean,” and – my personal favorite – “what is Joe Biden’s plan to get us new Frank Ocean music?”
In the four years since his last full length project, Ocean has released singles and features sporadically amidst ventures into other creative projects. He released a batch of singles in 2017 on his Blonded Radio show with Apple Music and again in 2019 with “DHL” and “In My Room.”
Album speculation peaked with the latter release, as each single featured 13 silhouetted images on the bottom of the cover art, possibly hinting at 13 tracks on an upcoming project. He has also exclusively released 7” vinyls for the tracks “Dear April,” “Cayendo,” and “Little Demon” on his website, however it was revealed last week that the “Little Demon” release was canceled and all orders were refunded.
Ocean was set to make a grandiose live return as the headliner for Coachella prior to the festival’s cancellation due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. But did the pandemic also delay a potential album release from the mysterious artist? We may never know.
Staying inside and keeping a distance from friends and loved ones have forced a lot of people into very personal, introspective places mentally, and it’s clear that fans feel only one artist can craft an album to get them through such times. However, even the most diehard fans must acknowledge that Frank is just a person like the rest of us. The pandemic has likely taken a toll on him like it did the rest of us.
More importantly, Ocean experienced his own heartbreaking loss earlier this year when his younger brother Ryan passed away suddenly in a car crash in August at the age of 18. Rather than beg for new music, Frank fans need to simply let him know that we are with him during these times.
If history tells us anything, a new Frank Ocean project will come on his time. Whenever that may be, Ocean’s perfectionist tendencies and constantly evolving production styles and writing abilities are sure to make it a culturally significant classic.
To hold you over in the meantime, here’s a fantastic tribute to the unprecedented masterpiece that is Blonde. Rest in Peace, Ryan Breaux.
Dom Maiorca is a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from UCLA where he studied Psychology and Film & TV while contributing frequently to The Paper Mixtape, an independent student-run magazine. He loves talking about music and movies and is always looking for new recommendations for both. Some of his favorite artists include Childish Gambino, Toro y Moi, Tyler, the Creator, KAYTRANADA, Gorillaz, and many more.