Frank Ocean Played Us All. Again.
It’s 1 am on a Thursday night. Well, Friday morning. August 5th. My computer is blank except these words popping up onto the screen as my mind races.
There is an eerie sound coming from my speakers. Something similar to the hollow reverberations of the inside of a seashell. Every few minutes, the sound of a floor board creaking in the distance comes shrilling through my speakers. My heart drops. I immediately stop typing and switch the screen over to Boysdontcry.co, which has been minimized for the last few hours. I wait for some sign of life to appear on the vague black and white Apple Live Stream that has been running on his site for days. Nothing. Just an empty work studio, cloaked in black and white. Empty except for the entire world’s expectations.
I can hear things in the background. But what exactly? I can’t be sure of for certain. I can’t help but wonder ‘What am I doing with my life?’ as I sit, listening to an empty room in the wee hours of the morning. Just waiting impatiently for an artists that has basically shrouded himself in secrecy for the past 5 years. There must be hundreds of thousands of others doing exactly the same thing as me right now. Like them, I believe Frank Ocean’s elusiveness and straight up trolling is forgivable. We are all tuned in, as if holding hands around a camp fire, collectively singing….nay….praying in unison that this is not another 2014 let down. or 2015 let down. As the hours unfold past midnight, I begin to worry.
‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ hit me like a runaway train when I first heard the 12 track EP. It was 2011 and I was a junior in college who was experimenting with all sorts of things. New wave R&B being one of them. Artists like JJ, Cocaine 80s, The Weeknd (pre-Thursday mixtape) and Frank made R&B accessible and dark. It hyper sexualized everything and shrouded melodies in dim neon while dipping them in a promethazine shine. The messiness of ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ made it something I could relate to. The monologue in the background of Love Crimes was something me and my roommates would memorize and recite. “What is a Radiohead?” was the take away catch phrase in Bitches Talkin. And then we can’t skip over the sweet sweet ear candy that is Strawberry Swing and it’s jacked Coldplay sample. And yet, Frank’s harmonious crooning added something rawer than Coldplay could ever muster (Currently, at least). Like everyone else, my all time favorites were Swim Good, Novocain and Electric Feel.
I could go on but we still have to peruse through ‘Channel Orange’.
‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ catapult Frank into a different stratosphere. Everyone was paying attention, and he did not disappoint with his debut ‘Channel Orange’. It contained features the likes of Andre 3000, John Mayer and the Odd Future gang. Lets not forget that this was his DEBUT album. Music journalist Sasha Frere-Jones wrote that Channel Orange was “a combination of decadence and spiritual ache similar to Prince’s”. In the wake of Princes passing, that statement could not ring truer.
But then poof. As quickly as he showed up – like an unidentified signal from space- he disappeared. Just a blip on some radar.
Who really knows why Frank left. I tried not to get bogged down by the fodder of gossip. The internet’s ability to constrict an artist with half truths and mystifying gossip is enough to correctly compare it to a spider web. Frank found himself stuck among the celebrity letters, the back and forth, the “disappointing” live appearances, the world’s expectations, etc etc. He left the burden behind him. I don’t blame him. His absence has left his fans wanting more but has left many turned off by his blatant disregard for our yearning. The way his camp has toyed with our emotions has defiantly left me feeling like an unrequited lover. But maybe that was his intention?
I guess that’s why I’m staring into the abyss of a mysterious Apple Live Stream. Black and white. Light footsteps in the background. A metal chain clanking somewhere in the distance. A room so empty, it sounds like the inside of a seashell. And yet we all know just how full that room really is.
1:36 am- No update on his website.
3:00 am- Nothing
12:44 PM- FRANK OCEAN PLAYED US ALL. AGAIN.