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Frank Ocean Releases Long-Awaited New Album ‘Blonde’ at Pop-Up Shops

Singer drops official ‘Channel Orange’ follow-up days after premiering “visual album” ‘Endless’

Rolling Stone Aug 21, 2016
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Frank Ocean Photo: Fred von Lohmann/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-2.0

Frank Ocean Photo: Fred von Lohmann/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-2.0

Frank Ocean’s long-awaited new album, Blonde, has arrived on Apple Music. The 17-track LP is the official follow-up to the singer’s acclaimed 2012 album, Channel Orange and comes on the heels of Ocean’s surprise “visual album” Endless.

The album’s release came accompanied by copies of a print publication, titled Boys Don’t Cry, at pop-up shops set up in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London. Blonde boasts the album’s first single “Nikes” while Andre 3000 appears on the album’s “Solo (Reprise).”

In New York, the pop-up took over a magazine shop on the corner of Mulberry and Kenmare, with dozens of issues of Boys Don’t Cry inside glossy packaging arranged on the store’s racks. Fans who visited the pop-up shops, which blared Ocean’s music over the Sonos speakers, were given a free copy of Boys Don’t Cry, which contained a CD copy of Blonde within.

The 360-page Boys Don’t Crycontains interviews with Ocean’s mom and Lil B alongside larger glossy pics taken by Ocean. Among the written portions are a multi-scene screenplay also written by Ocean, horoscopes and a “hopes and dreams” segment where several young men answer questions like “What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever witnessed?” and “What three superpowers do you wish you had?”

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Word of the album’s impending release first surfaced in late July in The New York Times, not long after an Apple Music-hosted live stream video appeared on Ocean’s website, boysdontcry.co. In July, the singer-songwriter hinted that the LP was on its way when he posted a picture of a library book slip showing a range of potential “due dates.” Ocean updated his website with a video featuring a hall with a pair of workbenches; a 45-minute version of this video served as the basis of Endless, which featured Ocean constructing a spiral staircase.

Ocean has been working on Blonde since at least January 2013. Since then, Lil B posted a photo on Tumblr showing him in the studio with Ocean. His Endless collaborators included James Blake, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, guitarist Alex G, singer Jazmine Sullivan, producer Arca and more.

As for music, Ocean’s output between Channel Orange and Blonde has included an original ballad, “Wise Man,” that was scrapped from Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film, Django Unchained; the atmospheric, lo-fi “Memrise;”and “You Are Luhh,” a rendition of “At Your Best (You Are Love),” a 1976 Isley Brothers tune famously covered by Aaliyah in 1994 that ultimately appeared on Ocean’sEndless. Ocean was also credited as a co-writer on James Blake’s most 2016 LP, The Colour in Anything.

Blonde Track List

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1. “Nikes”
2. “Ivy”
3. “Pink + White”
4. “Be Yourself”
5. “Solo”
6. “Skyline To”
7. “Self Control”
8. “Good Guy”
9. “Nights”
10. “Solo (Reprise)”
11. “Pretty Sweet”
12. “Facebook Story”
13. “Close To You”
14. “White Ferrari”
15. “Seigfried”
16. “Godspeed”
17. “Futura Free”

By Daniel Kreps and Jon Blistein, additional reporting by Elias Leight

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