Ocean makes waves with new album

Anthony Jauregui

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Opinions Editor

 

“Did he drop?” “He announced!” “Oh my god, he dropped!”

Frank did it. On Aug. 20 through an exclusive deal with Apple Music, Frank Ocean released his second studio album Blonde. Just one day before, Ocean released a visual album titled “Endless,” also an Apple Music exclusive.

After the success of his first album “Channel Orange”—a Grammy—Ocean went MIA and left fans and critics hungry for more. The world spent four years wondering when the next Frank Ocean project would hit their iPods and walkman.

Before the release of Blonde, (spelled Blond on the cover art), Ocean was signed to label giant Def Jam.

Ben Sisario of the New York Times says in his article “Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ Amplifies Discord in the Music Business” that “He [Ocean] had apparently fulfilled his contractual agreement with the label with the release of separate ‘visual album’ the day before ‘Blonde’ came out—a move that cut Def Jam and its corporate parent, the giant of Universal Music Group, out of the profits for one of the year’s most-anticipated albums.”

It is no secret Ocean has been pressured by Def Jam to potentially overproduce his work and leave us with trash artists who are also on the label and rhyme with Ziggy Zazalea.

The album has caused ripples in the music industry regarding artistic freedom from label giants and perhaps paving the way for future artists to do the same thing.

Nevertheless, Blonde’s monetary background, Ocean’s four-year dry spell and massive amounts of hype have little to do with my love of this album.

I discovered Ocean Aug. 1, two days before my break-up and three before my birthday. All I had to do was wait 20 days, and Blonde dropped so as I sat and sulked in break up juice—whiskey and cigarettes—I reveled in Channel Orange’s beauty, lyrics and soulfully penetrating music.

And if you haven’t listened to Channel Orange, and you’re in a relationship, I suggest you break up with that person and listen to it again. Every lyric will suddenly mean something, and you’ll cry thinking of a potato flying around a room.

Unbeknownst to me, the hype behind Blonde had been simmering for years and with rumors of an album titled “Boys Don’t Cry” said to be released, I hopped on the train to Bandwagonville and joined the masses and cried “Frank! Drop already!”

Then he did.

The upside to this odd release of Blonde was that there were no singles previously released. When singles are released, I tend to pop a CD in and jump straight to what sounds familiar. Without the singles, I drove straight through the album, stopping only to text friends and tell them it sucked, because at first, it did.

My first run through with the album was like standing in an open crowd in a bar for one hour. After a few songs, everything blended, nothing sounded different except for the occasional time the DJ hopped on the mic and asked how everyone was doing. All cacophony, no separation or feeling or notable hooks that would bring me back.

However, I decided to give it another shot. I listened again, this time closely, and began to notice redeeming qualities. Like going back to the crowded bar, I listened to conversations, the way tables were turned over and the way the bartender looked at me when I tipped him.

All the feelings mirrored my experience listening to Blonde again.

A friend told me to let the album grow on me, so I did. I think I may have let it grow a little too much because I am seriously contemplating coloring my hair green just like Ocean’s on the cover of the album.

Here are three of favorite tracks and why:

Nights-This song marks the halfway point for the album and plays in at least three different time signatures. It’s  like listening to multiple songs in only five minutes. I don’t know about you by buy one get two free deals get me riled up, especially when they’re delivered by the soulful voice of Frank Ocean.

Solo (Reprise)-BARS as brought to you by Andre 3000, one-half of the Outkast power duo. The reprise is about 1:20 long and is backed by piano electronic fused down beats that serve as punching bags to reinforce downbeats of each of the powerful quips delivered by the legendary hip hop artist. The song is a reprise to track four titled “Solo,” but plays with sounds and lyrical genius of the same caliber as someone with more songwriters than singers.

Pretty Sweet-This sounds like John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” is inside a vortex of electronic beats and as the two engage merrily in coitus, the Powerpuff Girls theme song makes an appearance and the three go at it having wild, erotic sex…and I love it.

Blonde is worthy of the aux. If you have an Apple product I suggest you purchase the album, and if you don’t, illegally download it. That’s why Def Jam is pissed they can’t sell CDs anyway.

I give this album four out of five iPods because there isn’t a compact disc version of the album anyway.