Since shortly after Channel Orange dropped in 2012, Frank Ocean fans have been restlessly waiting for another scattered, but somehow connected mind-fucking album from the Odd Future artist. He’s been featuring with John Mayer, Earl Sweatshirt, Beyonce and more, all the while teasing fans with a 4-year will-he-won’t-he story about dropping a new record.
Let’s put it this way…Frank Ocean is so huge that the Grammys invented an award just to give his solo album (which fit no solid category) recognition. It’s not hip hop, it’s not R&B, it’s not exactly adult contemporary, but that seems like the category it would most fit. But “oh no!” shouted the Grammys, “why stick him in the mix with Elton John and Lionel Richie when we can create Urban Contemporary and confuse the world?”
After pushing his album back over and over, and his people claiming that he is a “perfectionist” who keeps “tinkering”, people grow to expect something incredible. But that’s rarely the case. What that usually means is “we know, we know, but he keeps overdoing it.” Art is never finished, it’s only released. Kanye West is the perfect example of this, constantly re-doing specific bars on specific tracks on Pablo for no clear-cut reason whatsoever.
Frank Ocean’s record project is expected to be titled Boys Don’t Cry after the classic Hilary Swank transgender film when we all collectively found out that Hilary Swank was, in fact, a woman. Maybe Frank Ocean’s going through some shit…
Maybe E! canceled I AM CAIT to make room on the Fall Lineup for No, My Name is Frances Ocean...
The world may never know. But in the meantime, Ocean released a 45-minute visual album titled ENDLESS featuring a himself and friends working in a wood-shop set to music. The experimental film involves Frank Ocean building and painting wooden boxes which eventually get stacked meticulously to form a ceiling-high spiral staircase to nowhere. Essentially, this:
An “endless staircase” or Jacob’s Ladder—which perhaps would have been a more suitable title for the project(s).
The entire film is in black and white until one frame that springs to life when Frank Ocean ascends the stairs. I had to pinpoint this moment, of course, just to make sure he didn’t hide some kind of secret message or album release date in this mysterious pink frame…
The answer is no.
So now we wait. The music on the visual album is moody and transcendent with a bit of new wave spilling over the sides of the levees with so much Radiohead style, that there’s no way Radiohead isn’t involved (they are). Which is, no doubt, what we can expect from an upcoming album…or he could do what no one would expect, and turn up looking like Grace Jones.