Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Frank Ocean is back with new releases

‘DHL’ is available on all streaming services
Courtesy of Beats 1 official Facebook page

Frank Ocean has always been a man of mystery. His fans are used to waiting for new content, and when he does so much as post on Instagram, it becomes newsworthy action. All of his recent activity is peculiar, consistently inconsistent, resulting in an exciting time for fans.

Ocean hasn’t released an album since 2016, four years after his debut album “Channel Orange” in 2012. “Blonde”, the 2016 release, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts with 276,000 album units sold, along with being named the album of the decade by Pitchfork and top album of 2016 by Time.

In the three long years since “Blonde”, Ocean has only released seven singles, one of them a cover. Frank launched his own radio show on Feb. 24, 2017 on the station Beats 1 called “blonded RADIO,” and following 20 to 30 songs plus commentary, every episode would reserve the final song for his new single, save for a special three episode run in 2018.

Recently, on Oct. 19, Ocean unexpectedly launched a new episode titled “blonded 008.” While reruns of the first seven  “blonded” episodes have been playing on Beats 1, “blonded 008” is the first new episode since December 2018, and the first episode to feature a new original song by him since August 2017.

Following an eccentric playlist of songs from the ‘80s and friends like Vegyn, Frank Ocean delivered with the new single “DHL”. This release features a Frank never present before in any of his previous works — a calm, deep and chant-like rap resides over a psychedelic beat of drums and synthesizers. Ocean appears to acknowledge that he doesn’t try anymore, bragging about it in lines like,  “independent jug, sellin’ records out the trunk/ I’m already rich as f— so the product’s in the front.” In this release, he name-drops major companies such as Amazon, Starbucks, Kawasaki and, most of all, German shipping company DHL. In the hook, Ocean “just got a pack” as he raps about sex, drugs, diamonds and packages in the mail.

Two days before “blonded 008”, Ocean had an exclusive invite-only dance party in New York City, the first installation of a queer club night series. “PreP+, named for the HIV prevention drug, is meant to be an “homage to what could have been of the 1980s NYC club scene if the drug (pre-exposure prophylaxis) — which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDs for those who are not infected but are at high risk — had been invented in that era.” Despite controversy surrounding the event, two new singles came out of the club night, “Dear April” and “Cayendo.” “Cayendo” features another Frank Ocean never heard before — a Spanish one. Although they’re currently unavailable for streaming, the two new songs are for sale on vinyl on his website, the studio singles backed by Justice and Sango remixes of the songs respectively.

On Oct. 31, Ocean had a second “PreP+” club night. A Frank Ocean cover of Sza’s “The Weekend” and a new remixed single, “Little Demon,” featuring British rapper Skepta, premiered. However, similar to the two releases during the first “PreP+” club night, neither are available for streaming.

On Nov. 2, Ocean unexpectedly released “In My Room,” exclusively first on Apple Music and then eventually on Spotify. While he still raps about his wealth and his drugs, Ocean returns to his previous styles, focusing more on the melody, and a little more to his roots: love or heartbreak, whichever ever way the audience chooses to interpret his lyrics. “Every night you were in my room/ My room, my room with me/ I guess I can’t state my feelings too soon/ I don’t know you,” he concludes over a soft, bouncy synth beat. With the release of “In My Room”, a BennY RevivaL remix has been teased on Frank’s Instagram story.

Sunday, Nov. 3, the ninth episode of “blonded” aired. It concluded with a remix of “Little Demon,” followed by another recent release, “In My Room.” “Little Demon” had been played at Ocean’s second “PreP+” club night but had never been heard anywhere other than through low quality phone videos of the night. “Little Demon” is still unavailable for streaming, but similar to his other releases, is also for sale on vinyl at his website.

Does all of this mean an album is on the way? While that hasn’t been the case with Ocean’s last slew of singles, speculation is strong. The corner of DHL’s cover art features 13 silhouettes, with the fourth pose, the one featured on the cover, highlighted, implying “DHL” could potentially be  the fourth song out of thirteen. The cover art for “In My Room”, features an additional four silhouettes, speculated by fans to represent the four remixes of “Dear April,” “Cayendo,” “In My Room” and “Little Demon.” In a rare interview with W Magazine, Ocean told the interviewer that if anything were to come out, it would be inspired by “Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic” club music. When asked if he had any release dates in mind, the answer was a simple, “No.” While fans can look forward to more work, no one can say how long it will be. For the time being, all we know is that Frank Ocean is back.

Madison Cushing can be reached at [email protected].

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