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Frank Ocean Blond(e) album review

Ocean’s spends four-year hiatus from music maturing as a person

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Album: Blond(e)

Artist: Frank Ocean

Label: Independent

Release Date: Aug. 21

Grade: A-

It’s been a long four years for Frank Ocean fans.

His last album Channel Orange offered deep cuts of unrequited love as well as socially unforgiving love. His music was reflective of not only his emotions, but his sexuality, as he’s the only male in R&B to be open about his bisexuality.

The album was so inviting into the love life of a man who captivated many people’s attention with his smooth vocals and surprisingly outstanding lyrical ability that left his fans wanting more – especially to know the sex of the person the songs on his album are about.

On Aug. 21, Ocean certainly made up for the four years his fans went without any music when his album Blond(e) released on Apple music. The album was made up of 17 songs that spanned over 60 minutes with extravagant features from Beyoncé, André 3000 and Kendrick Lamar. He also released a visual album Endless that had over 44 minutes of music.

Ocean spends most of his album avoiding gender-identifying pronouns, refraining from using “him” and “her” and rather emphasized the use of “you” when referring to the subject of his crooning.

The skits in his album are a major element of conveying Ocean’s messages. In “Be Yourself,” Ocean’s mother is warning him about the dangers of pursuing acceptance from the popular drug culture surrounding college-aged kids.

While it is unlikely that Ocean obeyed his mother’s wishes – he sings about being on LSD and smoking weed in the next song – the inclusion of this skit in the album hints to the listener that smoking weed for extended periods of time could in fact lead to the consequences his mother warned him of.

“Facebook Story” features SebastiAn as the narrator, whose thick French accent complains about a girl whom he had been faithful to for two years wanted him to accept her Facebook request.

After he declined to accept her request, his love interest was left enraged. SebastiAn is torn up because she was willing to throw away a two-year relationship because she wasn’t friends with him on Facebook.

There are two major messages to take away from this skit: Facebook is a social network designed to bring people closer together, but in this situation it has driven two people completely apart. It also comments on how social media can be destructive just as much a communicative tool.

The stand out song of this album would have to be the ninth song, “Nights.” It goes against the current most of the album follows because it’s completely stripped of 808s and is paired with the guitar riffs and samples that saturate the album.

It follows a faster pace and lighter subject matter than most of the songs on the album.

Ocean’s second album is almost everything that his fans and casual listeners could’ve hoped for from the Odd Future affiliated crooner. The four years of buildup might make the album seem a bit flat, but the buildup is part of the message that Ocean is trying to relay to his listener: patience is a virtue.

Jamal C. Allard is the arts editor and can be reached at jamal.allard@ubspectrum.com.Follow him on Twitter at  @jamalubspectrum.


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