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Blonde - Frank Ocean evaluation
After disappearing from music for four years, Frank Ocean released Blonde on August 20, 2016. His previous album, named Chanel Orange, came out July 10, 2012, which left his fans craving for more, and rather impatient. When Blonde first came out, it was nothing like the rest of his albums. The lyrics were enigmatic, and often described as “weird”, which was exactly what made this album the masterpiece that it is. The album was considered an immense success, and after hearing it countless times, I’ve come to the conclusion that Blonde’s purpose was storytelling. The meaning was to drag the listeners in Ocean’s depths of memory, to have them relate to the artist more, and he did just that, by telling us a love story.
Frank Ocean showed his ability of storytelling in this album, by describing a memorable event in his life. In theory, Ocean’s Blonde is a very detailed love story. The first song of the mixtape, named “Nikes”, takes place in the future, and sets the mood and setting of what the love story. For example, Ocean writes: “We’ll let you guys prophesy, we gon’ see the future first. Living so the last night feels like a past life….”, describing “we” as him and his lover. He’s narrating the story, telling us that he’s going to see the future of the album story because he’s experienced it, it’s embedded into his memories. Later in the song, the lyrics are:
“I may be younger but I’ll look after you, we’re not in love, but I’ll make love to you. When you’re not here I’ll save some for you. I’m not him but I’ll mean something to you.”
This verse is a very evident declaration of love, but the song itself is so much deeper than just a love verse for his partner. It represents youth. His repetition of having sexual intercourse with someone he doesn’t have feelings for (“we’re not in love, but I’ll make love to you”), his repetition of wanting the famous shoes; it represents youth. The rush of sex, romance, drugs, uneducated behaviour, trends like shoes “nikes”; they represent how young he was when the romance started with this particular person. By setting up youth as a theme, Ocean relates to most of his listeners, which are teenagers, which immediately jump him up on the billboard.
Moving on into the album, we stumble upon the song “Pink + White”. This song is the climax of the relationship. The best part. The beauty of it. In the midst of love, nature is blooming, birds are chirping, the sky is pink and white as a beautiful sunset. The lyrics quote:
“Just the same way you showed me, showed me. You showed me love. Glory from above, good glory, dear. It’s all downhill from here.”
The significant part of this small verse is the last sentence. First, Ocean describes the glory that his lover showed him. Good glory from above, the beautiful skies and green grass. The intoxicating feeling of being in love, but his last line “it’s all downhill from here”, indicates that it gets better before it gets so much worse, a.k.a hinting a future break-up. Grown apart.
We further understand that with the audio after the song, called “Be Yourself” (which is an interlude, not a song). “Be Yourself” is a voicemail of a mother giving advice to her son. The mother warns the son not to do drugs, to stay away from marijuana, because it will make sluggish and unconcerned, and most importantly, to be himself. This part indicates that after the breakup, Ocean turned to stimulants such as marijuana to keep him distracted, to keep him content, which obviously does not sit well with his mother, and proves what effect a break-up can have on a man. Lyrics quote:
“Sluggish, lazy, stupid and unconcerned. That’s all marijuana does to you, okay? This is mom.”
This line represents the concern of Frank’s relatives for him, as he described himself broken and evidently still hung up on someone. In fact, he’s far away of getting over his loss of romance, but Ocean takes care of that towards the end of the album.
Fast forward through some songs, we get to analyze Self Control, White Ferrari, and Godspeed. Of course there are other songs in the album, but these three are the closure, the real end of the relationship. These three songs are Frank coming to terms with the fact that he isn’t over his former partner, but he’s slowly getting there. In fact, these songs go in order. In Self Control, Ocean quotes:
“You cut your hair, but you used to live a blinded life. Wish I was there, wish we had grown up on the same advice, and our time was right.”
The lines are pretty self explanatory. He notices how his ex-lover cut her hair, indicating the passing of the time, at least since the breakup. He tells her how he wishes things would go differently for them, for their time to be right. This correlates with the next song, “White Ferrari”, when he quotes:
“I’m sure we’re taller in another dimension, you say we’re smaller and not worth the mention.”
In my perspective, these last lines represent the moment Frank is finally on the right path of getting over. He portrays their relationship to be better in another universe/dimension, as if maybe they could have ended up together in another life, but not on this one. Being “taller” is a way of saying being bigger, something more significant, more real. Proceeding to the last song of this row, Godspeed, Ocean quotes:
“I will always love you how I do, let go of a prayer for ya. Just a sweet word.”
These lines conclude all three songs. The description of the first two are vague because Godspeed gathers them all. Frank is over his feelings, over his grief. He portrays that through the feeling of closure. Even though these two individuals will never be together in the current universe, Frank still has love for her, love only reserved for someone being his first love ever, hence the “I will always love you.”
Reading this review and listening to the album thoroughly, you can unleash a story that you might have not paid attention to at first. Sure, Frank Ocean’s melody is unusual at first. It requires time after time for you, as a listener, to enjoy it. But that’s the point of this album, it’s not for people who only focus on the melody. Once you’ve moved past that judgement, understanding the lyrics means understanding the album as a whole, and Ocean makes sure that listening to the poetry of the songs is as pleasant as possible. It feels as if you’re reading a book, rather than just listening to a simple album.
In conclusion, even though Blonde may not appeal to all people, it’s a very artistic way of telling a story through a song, or in this case, 17 songs. The album mixes different characteristics with plain R&B, but if you gave the album a more developed listen, you can see the brilliance of it, you can understand and relate to his storytelling and his experiences. Ocean is deeper than most people think, even deeper than this essay itself, but people can ony7t6ioply grasp the surface. Which is why Frank Ocean is definitely not for everyone.