The intoxicatingly talented, poetic and bold Frank Ocean releases his first album in four years titled Blond. The story behind the release of this album has been confusing due to title changing, an audio release differing from a visual album release and dates changing towards when we get our hands on this juicy material. That stated, none of the previously stated will even matter in about a week when the album will be wildly available along with a series of stunning music videos compiled in the visual album version of the record. Given that information it is clear this album didn’t seamlessly happen. Ocean just publicly stated “Thank you all, especially those of you who never let me forget I had to finish. Which is basically every one of ya’ll.” With those words it is clear there is already a theme of vulnerability of complexity associated with the making of the album.
Blond is a 17 song strong grandiose exhibition of musical experimentation, poetic exploration and innovative song writing. Every song on the album could easily be the hit single, it’s consistently powerful and doesn’t take any shortcuts. Additionally, Ocean’s voice is smooth like good scotch yet haunted like the hangover that follows. Unlike, his previous and groundbreaking album- Channel Orange, Blond is quite tortured. The record is reflective on heartache, the misery of millennials and the general apathy floating through contemporary America. However, the material also manages to be soulful R&B dance music, it really depends on what angle you wish to perceive it.
Part of what makes Blond so strong and complex is the rather unbelievable list of collaborators on it. This list includes Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood who provides some heavy and gritty guitar riffs that elevate the music to a level we seldom hear. James Blake, Beyonce and Pharrell are also present in this eclectic marvel. Additionally, the legendary Bob Ludwig (Rolling Stones, Nirvana, The Beatles) helped produce the record. Obviously some money was involved in the creation of the Blond, however it’s really the songwriting that stands out.Ocean recently shared that “If you’re a writer you can write anything..prose, songs, raps, novels, plays, films, laws..take the governor off your gift.”
Ocean is a diverse and unique artist; he is one of the controversial rappers in Odd Future, makes tender R&B lullabies, is the first main stream male rapper to come out as bi-sexual and avoids media attention. Blond is a sophomore album that contains decades of wisdom, remarkable musical bravado and almost every emotion imaginable. This is one of those get the hard copy, listen to it several times alone as the activity for the weekend kind of album. Blond is getting some flak for changing it’s release date and taking longer than anticipated. My response to that is that substance takes time, nobody criticizes you on how long it took you to get over your ex so leave the guy alone.