Single Review: The ouroboros of 'Biking'
How amazing it is to live in a world where Frank Ocean regularly releases new music.
His newest single, “Biking,” was featured on “Blonded Radio.” Growing like ivy from the cracks of Blonde, “Biking” seems to be an afterthought of the album’s closing track, “Futura Free,” as both featured rappers on “Biking” (Jay Z and Tyler, the Creator) had been mentioned in “Futura Free.” Both songs also have similar muted backgrounds, with minimalist piano chords mixing with distorted percussion into murky rhythms.
However, while “Futura Free” dissolved into the heavily vague and experimental, the significance of “Biking” comes in its concrete cyclical growth; like the constantly rotating wheels of a bike, this song is constantly revolving around itself, with every verse building off of what was previously introduced.
Jay Z brings us into the song with relaxed repetitions of “what goes around comes around”; the ambient background piano turns the verse into a composed line as he raps. The music subtly progresses to Ocean’s verse, which catches the end of Jay Z’s segment. Ocean picks up the image of BMX tricks introduced with “Right quick, Nigel Sylvester with these bike flips / That’s a full cab and a back flip” and smoothly carries it into his verse as he croons “Arm stretch a tee like I nailed it.”
A relay race in the making, “Biking” is all about the teamwork.
Its power lies in its dynamicity; this is a song that is constantly moving. A kinetic energy is developed both through syntactical repetition within individual lyrics (“I’m biking, I’m biking, I’m biking these blocks”) and also through thematic repetition from one verse to the next; while each rapper has their own distinctive style, they all persistently return to the same concept: biking.
“Biking” comes to a close with the image of Frank Ocean flying down the path of a steep hill. Self-control tossed to the wind, he is exalted as he heaves nearly incomprehensible declarations. Composure disintegrating with the end of the song, Ocean is portrayed as he rarely lets himself be seen: vulnerable, if only for a moment.
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