After years of grasping speculation, Frank Ocean fans were triply rewarded between last week and the weekend with the release of the mysterious visual album Endless, the more straightforward album-y album Blond, and the magazine Boys Don’t Cry (available to those who trekked to the pop-up shops in London — Ocean’s current home — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago). One might now say that fans have been quadruply rewarded, because as part of all that, Ocean has seemingly thanked the realm of his Internet fandom that kept cajoling him to release his album, and grew more and more impatient as time — and potential, unmet release dates — went by. This would be a humble surprise from any artist, as one would assume that a musician might get perturbed by fans seeming entitled to a product and thereby rushing the process. But instead, in a note on his Tumblr, Ocean thanked everyone for the sustained urgency they brought to the equation:
I HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE MAKING ALL OF THIS. THANK YOU ALL. ESPECIALLY THOSE OF YOU WHO NEVER LET ME FORGET I HAD TO FINISH. WHICH IS BASICALLY EVERY ONE OF YA’LL. HAHA. LOVE YOU
He also shared a second note, which was actually an excerpt from his magazine. It goes (very deeply) into Ocean’s love of cars, but also seems to partially link said love and the magazine to the cover image of the album, Blond, as well as the title, the recording process, and some of the themes. “Two years ago I found an image of a kid with her hands covering her face,” he writes. “A seatbelt reached across her torso, riding up her neck and a mop of blonde hair stayed swept, for the moment, behind her ears. Her eyes seemed clear and calm but not blank, the road behind her seemed the same. I put myself in her seat then I played it all out in my head. The claustrophobia hits as the seatbelt tightens, preventing me from even leaning forward in my seat. the pressing on internal organs. I lean back and forward to release it. Then backwards and forward again. There it is—I got free. How much of my life has happened inside of a car? I wonder if the odds are that I’ll die in one. Knock on wood-grain.”
He goes into a story about doing shrooms on Caltech’s campus in Pasadena, CA and how afterwards the “aluminum center console” of his manager’s Porsche truck “looked like it was breathing, like the throat of something.” He delves into a further poetic rundown of the driving experience, before concluding that reverie with, “Raf Simons once told me it was cliché, my whole car obsession. Maybe it links to a deep subconscious straight boy fantasy. Consciously though, I don’t want straight—a little bent is good.”
Still somewhat car-centric (the following passage mentions McLaren f1s,Porches, engine management systems), he continues into a reminiscence about the process of recording the album and traveling the world (he notes recording in Tokyo, NYC, Miami, LA, London and Paris) to do so. Finally, he gives insight into one particular song on Blond — “Godspeed,” which NME called “a beautiful ode that reminds us that the love we feel is each our own and doesn’t need another to reciprocate for it to be true”:
I wrote a story in the middle—It’s called “Godspeed.” It’s basically a reimagined part of my boyhood. Boys do cry, but I don’t think I shed a tear for a good chunk of my teenage years. It’s surprisingly my favorite part of life so far. Surprising, to me, because the current phase is what I was asking the cosmos for when I was a kid. Maybe that part had its rough stretches too, but in my rearview mirror it’s getting small enough to convince myself it was all good. And really though… It’s still all good.