Last weekend, Frank Ocean finally released his highly anticipated album, Blonde. This body of work has been five years in the making, but reviews have already been pouring out the wazoo. (Our eyes were burned by this flaming piece of trash.)
To exist at the same time as a creative genius like Ocean is truly something special, so we had to do our part and come up with something almost as special as the 366-paged Boys Don't Cry zine. Instead of rushing to review, we called on individuals from the creative community to share their thoughts and feelings on the album. Critics are important, but the opinions of fans matter too—a detail that the media world often overlooks in the grand scheme of things.
While it's hard to measure up to Kanye West's poem about McDonald's, this condensed collection of responses comes pretty close. Read all of these insightful and heartfelt reactions to Blonde in the gallery, below.
Jacques Greene (@jacquesgreene), producer
With the abundance of throwaway content in our lives and parcels of media meant to be consumed for a quick second and quickly forgotten, it feels incredible to engage with a body of work like this. It’s funny, honest, sad, adventurous, thoughtful, and wildly creative. The lulls and smaller moments on the record all feel purposeful, and the meandering nature of it is intoxicating.
My first listens of this record happened on a pretty long car ride, and I subjected my girlfriend to listening to the whole thing over and over. With each listen, we’d pick up on a new beautiful detail or a funny line or clever lyric quotation from the Beatles or Elliott Smith, amongst other things. It feels like hyperbole, but I’m honestly so happy and grateful to have this album in my life and look forward to living with it for a while.
Luna Olavarria Gallegos (@lunarlanderr), writer
I like that Blonde is about weird love. Although melodically hazy, Frank Ocean is upfront about awkward teenage romances, asymmetrical desires, and being a UFO lover, which is why this album feels like truth—a sort of representation that goes beyond my black queerness.
If I’m being honest, I don’t think Blonde has any singular track as good as “Thinking Bout You” or “Pink Matter,” but all together, the album as a whole stands out as a cultural oasis—a reminder to let yourself revel in visceral feelings, regardless of how bizarre they may be to us. It came at a really important time, at what seems like a collective acceptance of the historical and institutional lies inherent to our social fabric.
Within this surreal dystopia, Blonde juxtaposes with a critical honesty, making it okay to react to the smells that turn into reminiscing and the sounds that fuel daydreams. A nostalgia alchemist, he makes me remember feelings I didn’t even know I had.
Eliza Trono (@ALLCAPSELIZA), graphic designer
Waiting for Boys Don't Cry involved a lot of me feeling betrayed every couple months, pretending I didn't care, caring deeply, cursing Frank into the abyss, and listening to Channel ORANGE on repeat. (Honestly, four years between albums isn't even that long, but I still feel real dramatic about it.)
I forgave Frank this week. Somewhere in between Blonde on repeat and several days of exclusively tweeting about the album, all that angst has evaporated and been replaced by a whole new spectrum of feelings.
Blonde makes me feel intensely emotional. While the lyrics seem to be dictated by Frank's personal moments, they also feel universal. I love how Frank talks about realizing you're not a kid anymore, reflecting on what happened to get to this point, and working through and accepting certain complexities of semi-adulthood.
I've been hyper-reflective about my own experiences this week. Blonde makes me think of specific moments of my life, specific things I'm learning to deal with, how different I am now than I was in 2014, and all the relationships and moments that happened in the time between.
This could have been so corny. And while this album and my feelings about it could have so easily fallen into clichés, these are real things I feel all the time. Frank makes music where the same old shit becomes original, gentle, dreamy, familiar, meaningful, and comforting.
I've accepted it might be another three, four, five (not gonna get crazy with this) years until whatever Frank is going to make next. I may be able to process all of these emotions by then.
Santangelo Williams (@santangelo_____), rapper/producer
Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Wow, man. If we’re going solely off my core reaction, all body, I have to say, I am blown away by his confidence. These songs and stories were probably written before the chaos of the last few months, with an increased publicization of police brutality and the attack in Orlando. Yet, they come at a time where the brutalization of black, brown, queer, and trans bodies is a day-to-day expectation.
All of this combined with the prospects of political corruption, growing amount of student debt, and my own personal problems were all pretences for this album—not necessarily for Frank Ocean but for myself, a fan who four years ago felt a taste of freedom along with him as he released his now famous Tumblr letter. Blonde seems to take this freedom, along with the melancholy of a fleeting youth, and combine it with a paralyzing amount of self-awareness to stop those like me dead in their tracks. While it is structurally nothing like Channel ORANGE, Frank’s confidence is only amplified, and yes, I’m referring to him as Frank.
Frank Ocean is a threatening speckle of sunlight in a world that for the last few months felt dark and cold despite the blistering summer heat. He is armed with a soul and confidence that makes the world feel a little bit more promising for a young queer black boy. In Blonde, Frank is the lover I always wanted, the mentor I’ve always had, and the brother I can look up to, and for that, I say thank you. I’ll see you whenever you’re ready to bless the world again.
Azha Luckman (@denimindesert), photographer
Frank Ocean’s albums seemingly come out at the most important times in my life. This album really for me is something that narrates what we are currently going through as a generation. "Nikes," "Nights," and "Be Yourself" stick out to me. The video for "Nikes" was really important in expressing the magnitude and importance of this album, his shout-out to people who have passed like Pimp C, YAMS, and "R.I .P Trayvon/ That nigga look just like me.”
It is so important that topics like suicide, gun violence, and racism were addressed. I think that's something I admire about our generation, that we openly discuss these topics. In "Skyline" too, these lyrics stuck with me and my friends: “Summer ain't as long as it used to be/ Everyday counts like crazy (smoke haze).” With the passing of my really close friend Terrance Mccrary, who died due to senseless gun violence this summer, I relate to the lyrics in this song the most.
Frank Ocean’s music is like a therapy session. It is healing and validating. This album is something that accompanies you on a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway as the sun sets; it's an album you can make love to or cry and miss your one true love to. I think that's why we were all rooting for Frank; the music he puts out is timeless and so important to our generation.
pnkblnkt (@pnkblnkt), producer
Before analyzing Blonde, I want to clarify what we're specifically talking about. I’m just going to discuss the album itself and not the context, like rollout and hype surrounding it, because I think that a piece of art should be judged on its own merit and nothing else. Simply put, this is an amazing album.
The instrumentation is lush and intricate while also leaving room for Frank to breathe. He was able to make an album that sounds familiar and current yet also timeless, and unlike anything else out right now, which isn’t an easy task. I’m going to need more time to fully digest the lyrics since Frank is such an amazing writer but for first impressions, his voice sounds just as good as cChannel ORANGE, while incorporating new flows and arrangements to give it an updated feel.
This sounds like a very meticulous and thought-out album, and I can’t wait to give it some more attention. Lastly, a shout-out to 3K [André 3000] for the verse of the year. Now time to go redo all my songs…