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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Frank Ocean goes Blond

    Frank Ocean goes Blond

    The days of demanding content from Frank Ocean via angry tweets are over. After four years, Ocean has finally released his LP follow up to 2012’s Channel Orange.

    Catching us all off-guard, Ocean released a visual album, Endless, through Apple Music and his website on Aug. 19 and then dropped a completely different album the next day. While Endless had its uniqueness and served as an interesting debut of an audio/visual pairing, his newest album Blond (spelled “Blonde” on Apple Music) brought the artistry that we’ve come to know and love from Frank Ocean, silencing the “super fans” and taking us all on a hypnotic musical journey.

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    Blond is rooted in Frank Ocean’s idiosyncratic R&B, but Ocean completely expanded on his sound and delivered a 17-track album nothing short of a sonic masterpiece.

    Despite Endless’s role as a visual album, it seems that Blond’s captivating sound provides listeners with an even better array of visual wonders to go along with it.

    For myself, the entire album put me in a trance. The eclectic but soothing sounds had me feeling as if I was looking at a color-changing lava lamp through a viewfinder.

    Ocean uses his unshakeable talent as a lyricist and musician to express profound experiences from his past, while consistently capturing the essence of the times—including his role as black man in a racially charged society.

    Blond has an extensive list of contributors. It’s not completely clear how many of the listed contributors actually lent their vocals to the album, but a few definitely stick out. Beyoncé provides subtle back up vocals on “Pink + White,” Kendrick Lamar comes in on “Skyline To” and Andre 3000 combines his untouchable flow with Ocean’s signature jazz chords on “Solo (reprise).”

    French musician, Sebastian, delivers a short monologue on “Facebook Story,” which gives some compelling commentary on the way that social media interactions have taken control of our interpersonal relationships.

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    Despite all these contributions, Ocean finds a way to beautifully interlace the featured artists sound within his own, making Blond seem like one collective work of art rather than a star-studded album.

    On “Be Yourself ” Ocean’s mother talks to him in a phone call, warning him about the dangers of marijuana and alcohol in college. The inclusion of his mother’s voice and phone-call parenting reveals his appreciation for his mom but also represents a commonality among parents of our generation—the anti-drug enforcement from our parents has ultimately led to this mass-rebellion and normalization of drug culture. The conversation still comes off as comic relief though, reminiscent of the ridiculous talks many of us have shared with our own parents.

    Each song on Blond adds a new layer to Frank Ocean’s identity and slowly strips away the Channel Orange-era Ocean that we came to identify him with for over four years.

    Just isolating the title and cover art, Blond tells us that Frank Ocean has moved into a new era of artistry. After listening through his two-year project, it’s clear that the entire album reflects a drastic change in Ocean’s style and worldview; Ocean has evolved as an artist and this was his proof to everyone impatiently waiting.

    The final track on Blond, “Futura Free, “ completes the album beautifully. Ocean sings about his road to success and the pressure he’s faced as a platinum-selling artist. Ocean sings “They want to murder me like Selena,” referring to the late Tejano singer who was murdered by her fan-club president.

    Ocean creates music as his therapy and the enormous pressure from fans to release another album probably incited some feelings of danger and uncertainty as an artist.

    Referencing the times before he came up in “Futura Free,” everyone listening to Blond had to have shed a single tear when Ocean gave a shoutout to Tyler the Creator saying, “Tyler slept on my sofa, n**gas go back that far. ” The nine-and-a-half-minute outro completed this avant-garde masterpiece so well. It gave us a sense of the direction that Frank Ocean has moved in and why rushing art can be so detrimental.

    There are no catchy songs on Blond—no “Thinkin Bout You” or “Super Rich Kids”-type hooks. Frank Ocean showed all of us in one hour and one minute that his music comes straight from the soul and no planned release date or fan pressure will change the way that he makes music.

    Blond takes listeners on a journey that would truly take weeks to dissect and fully appreciate. So let’s forget about the fake release dates, disregard the constant teases and just appreciate the fact that Frank Ocean gave us all an incredible piece of music that was very well worth the wait.

    Follow Sean Orth on Twitter

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