Song: Pink + White (Frank Ocean)
Time: 11:44 pm
Location: Bed Sheets
Frank Ocean became a prophet for millennial heartache overnight; Channel Orange his sermons. First released on July 10th 2012, Ocean kept his dedicated and touched fans drooling for more. Four years caused confusion, desperation, bonds and an ever faithful following of the mysterious sonic genius who had appeared with such rhythm and left with equal impact. With a lingering jazz perspective, Channel Orange exhaled the hope that was finally necessary against modern racial divisions; eloquently turning the page with his ability to repel prejudice and hatred.
When racial differences took over media and birth names became hashtags, Frank Ocean stayed silent. Being part of a community primarily means two things: things you do reflect on it, and things you don’t do reflect on it. While black artists bonded through music to raise a message for Trayvon Benjamin Martin or Orlando victims, Ocean dropped the occasional heartfelt tweet. Where was the man who had promised a future of such unity? And yet, we overlooked the one thing that defines the artist — Frank Ocean is forever unapologetic. This runs through his work, from his love ballads to his specific criticism of the L.A. privileged, to his political critiques on governmental war behavior. What is most remarkable is that he never asks for forgiveness and instead repeatedly ensures that he is prepared to do so when the time is right. Blonde is a refreshing reminder all of these traits and more.
Blonde in particular, is a story of loneliness, of unattainable dreams and funnily enough: community. “There will be mountains you won’t move, but I will always be there for you how I do”. Ocean’s tendency to say everything he needs to say in one sentence was shown in the first song on the album ‘Nikes’. RIP Trayvon, that nigga look just like me, refers to the 17-year-old that was shot and killed while visiting his father. In the song’s video, he holds up a photo of the young man as an incredibly impactful and frighteningly real tribute. This is a hand to hold. This is a community.
The album is a collection of dreamy vibrations and drugged wooziness. It’s raw, it’s fucked up, and it’s very human. Gospel vibes throw off the multiple attempts at what seems to be a running theme of protection. The songs and instrumentals combined are a bizarre mix of mediums and preaches. And yet, amongst the chaotic stridency, Ocean has the perfect ability to lull you into the rhythmic wave that is contemporary R&B.
After its first week of being released, Blonde flew to No. 1 on the charts. Is this simply Channel Orange? As an audience, we can only wait loyally to find out. For how long? Who knows. In the meantime, we cling to the clean, salty air that was his wave, as he pulls back into the depth of the sea.