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Frank Ocean is back and the world is suddenly a better place

After keeping his fans waiting for four long years since 2012’s Channel Orange, Frank Ocean resurfaced this weekend with a lot of new material. From the visual album Endless to the full-length album Boys Don’t Cry Blonde, the man who defies almost every aspect of the hip-hop/R&B world is back with a complex collection of music. A collection that to this fan feels both familiar and fresh, starting with the echo-y single “Nikes” and ending with the thudding piano of “Futura Free.”

Although Endless is technically an album, it is really something to be watched and listened to simultaneously. It will invariably be compared to this year’s other huge visual release, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, but comparison is unwarranted except for the fact that they’re both albums that have an accompanying visual track. There’s no political or social message to Endless, not explicitly. There’s no “OMG did he mean to say that about XXXX?” moment. It’s a musical love letter to the music-making process with some really cool appearances by some other artists. Nothing more, nothing less. Any other artist could have released just Endless and most fans would be happy.

But that’s where Blonde comes in. Formerly rumored to be called Boys Don’t CryBlonde is like Frank Ocean himself. Weird. Different. Semi-depressing, reflective, and somehow, still hopeful. The first single, “Nikes” is a track that I’ll undoubtedly have to listen to another 500x before I fully feel like I “get it” and guess what? That’s ok. I still turn on a handful of cuts from Channel Orange and immediately feel like I have no clue what life means. And that feeling is awesome.

Songs like “Pink + White” and “Nights” are incredibly well-placed and everything on the album is fantastically produced. Kendrick Lamar popping in on “Skyline To” is poignant and feels natural. Little breaths of other artists are refreshing, but from the beginning of album to the end, one thing is clear: This is Frank Ocean’s album.

If you really want to get to the meat of this release, press play on “Godspeed” and then dive back in from the beginning. You won’t be disappointed.

This isn’t Channel Orange, but hey, did we expect? Plus, ask me again in a couple months (and about 1000 replays of this album later) and I might have a different opinion.

Rating: 4.5/5

Frank Ocean Blonde
Photo: – Frank Ocean Blonde
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