The saga of Frank Ocean’s third album release has been something akin to music’s Groundhog Day. Every man and his dog has come out of the woodwork on a weekly basis to say they’ve heard it, it’s a masterpiece and it will blow everyone away. Reports that H from Steps emerged from a private listening party at Frank’s house saying it was, “life changing” are currently unconfirmed. All signs seemingly do point to the fact that the release of the long-awaited ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ is tantalisingly imminent.
Frank Ocean has always been an artist beautifully adept at using the internet and social media to create a mystique and depth of feeling for him and his music that goes beyond just releasing records. It’s helped enable him to become a genuine A list superstar, not forgetting the fact that his two previous albums – particularly 2012’s breakout ‘Channel Orange’ – are genuine modern classics. People really really care about Frank Ocean. When the album finally arrives the screams of relief and exaltation will be heard from Shoreditch to San Francisco.
It was back in July 2015 that Frank first revealed the existence of ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ as he updated his website with the now iconic line, “I got two versions. I got twoooo versions” The two versions he was referring two are seemingly the album itself and his new magazine also titled ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. Now there are rumours that he is also writing a novel. The man can do it all.
Since that update a year ago very little has been heard from Frank himself. Instead, a number of his musician friends and collaborators have speculated on what he’s up to. Kindred spirit James Blake spoke to Rolling Stone in May to say that he’s heard the album and, “It’s better. You grow, you improve, you nail a new message to the board. He’s had time to mature. It’s really cool to watch.” Chance The Rapper said in an interview with Complex that Frank was ensconced away for years making, “a masterpiece.” More recently Theophilus London tweeted that: “Can’t wait till that new Frank Ocean record drops soon! A lil Birdy told me a secret last night.” So, there you go. It’s out ‘Soon’.
Probably the biggest hint that the album is teasingly imminent is the latest update to Frank’s website that features a library due date card with a number of crossed out dates over the last year, presumably the amount of times Frank had to go to the record label like a naughty schoolboy to say he’s late with his homework. Now, only two future dates remain – July 2016 and November 2016. The endgame is near for ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and the final countdown has begun.
2016 has already been a landmark year for superstar album releases with everyone from Kanye to Beyonce to Radiohead having a go. It’s quite possible that Frank Ocean’s release may trump all of them but, in any case, one thing is certain. The new Frank Ocean album is a very big deal.