One of the few gratifying things about the troubling times we live in is that Frank Ocean seems intent on providing the kind of rolling soundtrack that we’d all hope to go out on.
After years of inactivity, Ocean’s protracted return last summer with ‘Endless’ and ‘Blonde’ felt like a blessing from on high, with two bodies of deeply intricate and intensely beautiful work cementing the 29-year-old’s place at music’s top table. Those 34 new songs probably could have tided us over for another few years, and we’d almost have accepted it if he’d chosen to retreat back into the shadows as it would’ve given us time to devour and digest that latest musical bounty.
But ‘Blonde’-era Frank Ocean is clearly looking to strengthen the huge esteem we already hold him in as a creative, with his new favourite outlet for this very purpose coming through his deal with Apple Music, which granted Ocean his very own infrequent radio show, ‘Blonded’, on Beats 1.
— Beats 1 (@Beats1) May 15, 2017
Five episodes of ‘Blonded’ have come and gone since its launch in February, with broadcasts often coming with just a few hours’ – if not minutes’ – notice. After previously airing brand new songs and providing us with numerous playlists to while away the hours, ‘Blonded”s latest installment, ‘006’, aired earlier this morning and felt particularly significant as it featured Ocean taking on co-hosting duties with regular presenters Vegyn and Roof Access.
Reluctant to give interviews or indeed enter the publicity cycle whatsoever, any opportunity to hear Ocean speak on music should be grasped with both hands. And that’s exactly what we did – over the course of two hours, we delighted in hearing him laud The Beatles and LCD Soundsystem, give a shout-out to mothers, and – of course – premiere another brilliant new song. Here’s what went down on ‘Blonded 006’.
Frank loves The Beatles
Well, who doesn’t, right? But we should be indebted to the immortal power of The Fab Four all over again after Ocean revealed that their music helped him out of a creative hole during writing sessions for ‘Blonde’ and ‘Endless’. “I want to thank The Beatles for almost single-handedly getting me out of writer’s block,” Ocean said as he introduced ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ (which was sampled on the ‘Blonde’ track ‘White Ferrari’). “I mean, do you hear this?” Oh yes we do, Frank. Yes we do.
His new collaboration with A$AP Rocky and Quavo is so good it’s silly
Another ‘Blonded’ episode, another new song. Ocean had to settle for a featured credit on this particular premiere, however, with A$AP Rocky taking the lead on ‘RAF’, which also features Migos‘ de facto leader Quavo and Lil Uzi Vert. Delivering a trap-inflected instrumental that recalls both ‘Bad and Boujee’ and Drake‘s ‘Portland’, Ocean shines with a guest verse that sees him rapping about eating a plate of ravioli at Obama’s house.
‘Blonded 006’ also saw two versions of ‘RAF’ debuted – listen to the first below.
He’s indebted to LCD Soundsystem and keen to listen to them while driving “a flying car”
Frank’s cancellation of two headline appearances in the US this month has made fans worldwide nervous about his touring commitments, with the ‘production delays’ explanation not washing well with some fans who were already wary of his past history of cancelling shows and festival slots.
Ocean made a passing reference to one particular cancellation on ‘Blonded 006’ ahead of playing LCD Soundsystem’s new song ‘American Dream’, thanking the James Murphy-led band for stepping in to cover his headline slot at Sasquatch! festival in the US.
Ocean also described ‘American Dream’ as the kind of song he’d like to listen to all day if he had a flying car. Seems apt.
He thinks André 300 is the greatest rapper of all time
“You know when you not on the list, but you’re still number one?” Ocean argued about the Outkast genius. “You’re not top five because you’re number one. You’re just not involved in top five conversations because you’re number one.” Case closed, then.
He gave his mum a special shout-out
We already know Frank loves his momma, and he gave her – and all the mothers – a special shout-out to mark the US’s observance of Mother’s Day yesterday (May 14) by playing Tupac‘s ‘Dear Mama’ and announcing: “This is the Mother’s Day anthem. Happy Mother’s Day, ma. And everybody’s mother.”
They followed it up with Outkast’s ‘Ms. Jackson’ – because, y’know, it goes out to all “the baby’s mamas, mamas” – and then gave an additional namecheck to Nicki Minaj (a possible reference to her lyric “all these bitches is my sons” from her 2010 track ‘Did It On ‘Em’).
The broadcast possibly confirmed that there will be a new Frank Ocean album before October
We’re digging out our very best fan theory hat here, but bear with us. While Frank didn’t explicitly mention anything about a new album during the broadcast, the Ocean fanbase at large were sparked into heightened excitement after Apple Music tweeted what appears to be the long-awaited official cover art for ‘Endless’. Observe:
— Beats 1 (@Beats1) May 15, 2017
Why is this significant? Note the three wooden blocks, with a pair of headphones on the block that contains the number ‘3’ – presumably designating that ‘Endless’ was his third album (after ‘Nostalgia Ultra’ in 2011 and 2012’s ‘Channel Orange’), which therefore made ‘Blonde’ the fourth.
Fans have often harked back to Ocean’s declaration that he wanted to release five albums before he was 30, and this latest visual clue has us thinking: Frank turns 30 on October 28. Could a new record surface in the next five months?
We want to believe it’s possible, and it seems that the first we’ll hear of anything pertaining to Album Number 5 will come through any future episodes of ‘Blonded’ – just make sure you don’t miss out on listening to it live next time…