by Sarah Pearl Heard (Staff Writer)
Frank Ocean is that weird artsy friend that disappears for weeks at time and reemerges on Facebook with a long emotional post. No – he is the long emotional post: nostalgic, gut-wrenching, and vaguely erotic, he is the human embodiment of a Tumblr.
Ocean released his second album, “Blonde,” last month, after teasing a project called “Boys Don’t Cry” for nearly four years. Along with the album came a visual project, Endless, which itself had been teased for weeks with an endless video stream, a video for his song “Nikes,” and pop-up shops around the world carrying a zine called “Boys Don’t Cry.”
“Blonde” and its accompanying projects are as unsettling as they are promising. Ocean’s visuals seem to show off a bit of his process, giving the viewer the sense that this is the prelude to his next masterpiece, the “Surf” before his “Coloring Book.”
There’s something bold – genius, even – in his quiet assumption we will watch and listen to anything he puts out. And we do. This is different from the common strategy of making it big and then making the art you feel, as Beyonce and Rihanna have recently done; Ocean has flipped the trope on its head and is making the art he feels before anyone tells him not to. He did not make another album full of the angsty R&B that fans craved, but rather a hybrid of acoustic easy-listening and spoken word that glides into falsetto with ease and anguish.
Though many have expressed disappointment, have condemned “Blonde” as “worse” than “channel ORANGE,” remember that the genius and vulnerability of experimental art doesn’t meld well with megafame. Experimental, and visual, art has to be sat with; it does not suit hashtag frenzies or calls to action. So how does he make us meander? He is himself, privately and unapologetically. He’s not the sex symbol of our generation, but the siren, the muse. He’s a sleepy Sunday morning when you oversleep and lie with your dreams and last night’s mistakes. He’s our queer hero, our bleeding heart, our Hemingway.
Let’s let him have his mystery, and make our meaning. I suggest you avoid your ex and writing poetry while you set aside the heartache he’s caused and let his apology seep into your skin.