Frank Ocean: lost at sea?

Jackson Croy, Staff Reporter
Originally published May 9, 2016

In 2012, Frank Ocean released his debut studio LP, “channel ORANGE” and the world lost its mind. Ocean was sexy. He was fresh. He was clean-cut. His album popularized neo-soul in a way that not even Lauryn Hill could compete with.

But, of course, 2012 was four years ago.

Since then, there has been little more than a peep from the artist so many fell in love with when they heard “Thinkin Bout You,” or “Super Rich Kids.” Aside from a surprise single (“Memrise”) and hints on Twitter of a new album that was supposed to come out last July.

Now, a year has passed, and asking “Where is Frank’s new album?” is synonymous with “How about this weather?”

Articles are published with headlines like “Hey Frank Ocean: Sure wish you had released your album.” There’s even a blog (“A Depressing Timeline, Boys Do Cry. Where In The World Is Frank Ocean?”) following clues on when “Boys Don’t Cry” might drop. We’re tired of waiting for him, and we’re tired of pointing out that he’s gone.

However, the memes and the small-talk formulaic sentences are ultimately unhelpful to the release of Ocean’s next presumed magnum opus. It’s been a year. He knows we want it.

As a general rule, art doesn’t decline as more time is spent perfecting it. So let him work. Let him create an album in as much time as it takes to make another great one. Keep him in your mind, but chill out a bit. Remember that he’s making his art for him, because he’s not some pop-music machine.

Frank Ocean is the artist who made a complex, sophisticated jazz-soul album that was so good it achieved pop-level significance. His art was anything but formulaic. Not only did R&B purists love it, but so did 12-year-olds and their parents—not to mention every teenager who was alive when it came out.

Frank Ocean is making the album he wants to hear. With “channel ORANGE” Ocean proved he likes to take his time, and when left alone to do so, will deliver the album listeners were hoping for. We must stop treating him like another industrialized pop star who does nothing but crank out records for the sake of making money for his label. Respect his process and the time it takes to make a masterpiece. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Time is equal to progress. Let him make progress.

Have good faith that it will be worth it. Absorb the complexity of “channel ORANGE.” Take the opportunity to go a little deeper into the music. And while you do, Ocean will be working.