#TheDigitalDev: A Reflection of Frank Ocean's Blonde
Originally posted on www.devynation.com (08/26/2016)
Two-thousand sixteen has been a crazy year for music. We've been blessed with new sounds from Rihanna, captivating visuals from Beyonce, and finally a long-awaited album by Frank Ocean. The seventeen track project is entitled "Blond" or "Blonde" -- the masculine and feminine spellings have been interchangeable, possibly hinting at Ocean's sexuality.
When you hear Blonde, there will be moments that take you back to the first time you heard Channel Orange. If you listen close enough you'll even be reminded of a few good thrills from Nostalgia Ultra. But with the new album comes a new Frank Ocean. One we haven't yet heard yet. One that is extremely hard to gauge. Is Frank still caught up in his web of unrequited love or did he leave that in the summer of 2008? Songs like "Godspeed" where he sings of no longer forcing unreciprocated emotion, gives listeners hope: "I let go of my claim on you/its a free world." But other songs like "Solo" paint the image of being alone yet longing to be desired.
I've heard a lot of criticism surrounding Blonde. "If you're a real Frank Ocean fan and [you've] been with him since nostalgia ultra, then you know this isn't Frank." My response: If you're looking for the same Frank Ocean from four years ago you'll be disappointed with what you'll find. The idea is pretty simple actually, if you're the same person from four years ago then I'm not sure what melody will soothe your savage soul.
It was 2012 when I tried to unravel Channel Orange. I was sixteen, awkward, immature, and out of touch with myself. My only real connection to the album was being a teenager with a summer crush that felt like dramatic unrequited love (HAHHAHA...not the case at all). It wasn't until four years later, a sophomore in college, that I understood his message. Channel Orange was a coming of age story that stood with me through my early stages of adulthood and self discovery. I say all this to stress how important it is not to discredit Frank's vision and purpose for this album.
After a week of drowning myself in this project, it became apparent that Blonde is the story of growth and acceptance -- just what we need after Channel Orange. It captures the essence of hindsight and rearview mirrors. Sung in strange melodies and produced with "prismizer effects," Blonde is a memory of first love, past mistakes, youthful summers, and distant relationships.
"Boys do cry, but I don’t think I shed a tear for a good chunk of my teenage years. It’s surprisingly my favourite part of my life so far. Surprising, to me, because the current phase is what I was asking the cosmos for when I was a kid. Maybe that part had it’s rough stretches too, but in my rearview mirror it’s getting small enough to convince myself it was all good. And really though… It’s still all good." - Frank Ocean
So is Blonde a classic? As cliche as it might sound, only time will reveal. But until then...I'll just wait another four years (hopefully not) for him to release some tour dates!!!