Frank Ocean debuts new album (It’s about damn time)

Lones Gagnard, Contributor

In a world bursting at its seams with regurgitated, remixed beats and repetitive sing-along choruses, Frank Ocean has released “Blonde,” a testament to individuality and an ode to the inherent courage found in walking one’s own path.

Ocean sonically changed course from his breakout debut album “Channel Orange”, a radio dreamboat full of catchy R&B serenades ready to be put on repeat for four years. On “Blonde,” Ocean has stepped back from his tried-and-true production in order to explore raw, experimental new ground. Every track is stripped bare, with minimalist production leading to each snare, bass hit and chirp of birds demanding attention.

This change in production lends itself to the lyricism throughout the entire album with self-searching vulnerability. Frank Ocean is writing poetry instead of songs, and allows us to see the person he truly is, or rather see the struggle Ocean faces as he searches for who he is.

“Blonde” is a concept album, and its lush, dream-like rhythms intertwine every second of every track into one solid piece. The album has big, name-dropping features; although, more often than not, they occupy the background. Ocean does not rely on famous names to carry his music. “Pink+White,” the third track on the album, could have featured any background singer, but it is none other than Beyoncé. Kendrick Lamar has as much song time as the chiming of birds does on “Skyline To.” These superstars underlying Ocean’s songs are just another aspect begging you to dig in deeper and listen to every note and every harmony.

With “Blonde” and “Endless,” Ocean has shown he wasn’t just leading us on for the last few years, but has been evolving as a musician and, more importantly, as an artist. He is breaking new ground in music, nothing that has come before  “Blonde” is quite like it. Frank Ocean has created soul music that mixes dream-pop, trap, alternative R&B and hip-hop. While Ocean may not be topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Blonde,” he has cemented his status in music history as a music legend, not just a man who got lucky with one good album. He has paved the way for other albums towing the line between R&B and art to be taken seriously.