Suspend all disbelief if you must, but it appears that the wait–at times, a Detox-esque, seemingly endless one at that–for new music from R&B king Frank Ocean is finally over. According to a report yesterday from The New York Times, the singer’s long-awaited album, Boys Don’t Cry, will be available Friday on Apple Music, where it will remain an exclusive release for two weeks.
After rumors that Boys Don’t Cry would be released in July 2015, the crooner followed up a year later, posting a cryptic message that hinted at a July 2016 release for the follow-up to Channel Orange, his exceptional 2012 debut record. While he didn’t beat that self-imposed July deadline, he did post a bizarre video stream of himself doing a bit of woodworking (branded with an Apple Music watermark) on a site clearly designed for the release of the new album. With Boys set to be released this Friday–August 5th–Frank remains very on-brand: Fashionably late.
That brand, though, has become something special. Since first appearing on the peripherals of the Odd Future popularity bubble back in the early 2010s, Ocean’s infrequent appearances have consistently been musical highs, whether on his own songs or surfacing on those of others. He’s shown up this year on The Life Of Pablo, and James Blake’s new album as a co-writer, but after deleting his social media accounts–Tumblr aside–the man has essentially reached Salinger-level isolation.
Just in case you’ve forgotten—of course you haven’t, who are we kidding?—exactly how great he is, we’ve decided to share with you six of the most interesting songs and features of Frank Ocean’s career for a quick seminar on masterclass R&B. Check out our crash course below:
“American Wedding”– Nostalgia, Ultra
Don Henley be damned, this track is just electric. Based along the same backdrop and melody as Eagles’ classic “Hotel California,” Ocean’s version with re-worked lyrics saw much controversy, as Henley, the Eagles’ lead singer, as well as their record label, WMG, both threatened to sue Frank. Nothing ever came of it, however–due to Nostalgia, Ultra’s not-for-sale status, there were no sampling rules being broken. And thank goodness for that, because that Eagles’ backing instrumental and Ocean’s smooth-as-silk voice are a match made in mashup heaven.
Frank’s first solo hit is a short-but-sweet romp that made many song-of-the-year lists back in 2011 when it first dropped. It serves as a fun sample, and a promising preview of what was to come from the rising musician.
“No Church In The Wild”–Watch The Throne
For many, Jay Z and Kanye West’s joint 2011 super-album, Watch The Throne, was the first taste they had of Mr. Ocean. The only artist prominently featured on the album aside from the queen herself, he quickly establishes himself as a power player, singing the hook on this infectious jam. A lasting favorite, you may also recognize this song from one of these movie trailers.
Featuring here alongside his old Odd Future pal, Tyler, The Creator, Frank shows off not only his sultry voice on the song’s smooth, divine hook, but also opens up with a bit of rapping as well. His slick style is the perfect contrast for the abrasive and harsh flow that Tyler has made his calling card.
Finally, we arrive at Channel Orange. There are so many amazing songs on this album, including but not limited to “Sweet Life,” which has always sounded to me like a 90’s R&B anthem that could’ve shown up alongside Seal and D’Angelo on the Space Jam soundtrack, to the Earl Sweatshirt-assisted “Super Rich Kids,” about exactly what it sounds like, to “Forrest Gump,” the incredibly catchy yet somber styling that Ocean chose for his lone Grammy performance, to “Thinkin’ Bout You,” which could even be the New Orleans’ native’s signature song when it’s all said and done.
But none of these top “Pyramids,” which clocks in at just under ten minutes, spanning multiple genres, narratives, and vocal and instrumental effects at once. This song has it all: Opening with enthralling beats that will make anyone get out of their seat and start dancing, it eventually shifts into a falsetto-laden power ballad of sorts, bringing a hazy, dark cloud over what had mere minutes earlier been so fun and uptempo.
“Wolves/Frank’s Track”–The Life of Pablo