Blonded Xmas: Frank Ocean’s Return


Source: VICE

Ben Kane

Producers: Frank Ocean

Release Date: Dec. 25, 2021

Streaming On: Apple Radio

Rating: 4/5

It wouldn’t be Frank Ocean music without it randomly being dropped.

An album being released on a random Saturday afternoon the day after one of your other albums was released is odd enough. What’s even weirder is releasing a song at 2 p.m. on Christmas day, but that’s Frank!

The Grammy-winning artist has been a ghost to the world over the past few years. However, there’s a reason for this.

2020 was a rough year for everyone. The pandemic began early in the year. With lockdown happening and businesses not able to keep their doors open, things looked dark for many people, including artists. While some artists, such as Taylor Swift, took the time to create a whole new album, Ocean was dealing with something completely different. 

On Aug. 2, 2020, Ryan Breaux, Frank Ocean’s 18-year-old brother, was involved in a fatal car crash and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

At this time, Ocean was in the process of pre-selling a vinyl that included an unreleased track. However, the release was scrapped in December, and he wasn’t heard from until this fall.

Frank began popping up everywhere. The usually stolid singer was getting his face back out into the world from the Middle East to New York City to the Met Gala. 

When news spread that the artist was shopping his newest album to record labels after leaving Def Jam Records, fans felt it was only a matter of time.

On Christmas day, at about 11 a.m. EST, Ocean posted on Instagram that he would be releasing a new track on Apple Radio in just three hours. Immediately social media blew up in anticipation of its release, and boy did it deliver.

Source: Instagram/@blonded

The track is focused on the idea of grieving and the first twenty minutes are centered around advice.

After his brother passed, Ocean went looking for advice on grieving and how to get through this dark time in his life. He ultimately turned to Wim Hof and recorded their conversation. Ocean was so inspired by this talk that he created a beat behind Hof talking and added light vocals.

He first added some piano underneath Hof’s “monologue” and switched back and forth between a few chords. It gives off the vibes of an elevated Minecraft soundtrack. Alongside this, every few lines in the verse, a wind instrument is played that carries over the chords on the piano.

Frank steps in once the breathing specialist is done talking and almost freestyle sings for ten straight minutes. While the instruments in the background are kept the same, it seems as though Ocean did not record this in a studio. His vocals seem very echoey, but his tone is as good as ever.

The freestyle speaks about Frank being on his way to “greatness,” but he “can escape.” 

He goes on to talk about being a dog frantically chasing a car down the street, and once he gets there, he goes into panic.

The verses transition from chasing that dream to actually achieving it and the pressure being too much. So much so that as Ocean puts it, “The pressure couldn’t stop the bleeding, started seeing things.”

Overall, the song flips back and forth between different stories and scenarios part of Ocean’s life. Still, the theme remains the same throughout: Frank chased his dream and got it, but the pressure of keeping up that consistency got to him.

From what the world knows about Frank, he has always been a very closed-off person and does not allow the media to control his life, nor anyone for that matter. He does what he wants when he wants, and because of his accomplishments, he gets the respect to do this.

When Frank decided to take a break, the world accepted it and knew he would eventually return. While this return may have been entirely different than what was expected, it was surely worth the wait and a sign that this is just the start of the return.