My annual 'Where the hell is Frank Ocean?' article
Last November, I penned an open letter to Frank Ocean, pleading with him to fill us in on where he’s been, what he’s doing and, most importantly, when some new material would drop. On Thanksgiving, he released the short and unsatisfying “Memrise,” showing his first signs of independent artistic life since CHANNEL Orange. Though the rest of 2014 was relatively quiet, 2015 looked bright: he released another short song in January, and then in April, announced his new album would be out in July.
Well, now it’s July fucking 129th and still nothing. The initial announcement of his new album was made on his Tumblr and featured a photo of the artist sitting with stacks of magazines titled “Boys Don’t Cry,” with the caption, “I got two versions. I got twoooo versions. #ISSUE1 #ALBUM3 #JULY2015 #BOYSDONTCRY.” So not only was Frank teasing a new album, but also an apparent new publication. Both seemed to be titled “Boys Don’t Cry.” But who knows, because we never got either of them.
As the days in July dwindled down, fans continued to hold out hope. Even as August opened, the Internet was quick to defend Frank; he liked doing things on his own time, like in 2011, with nostalgia, Ultra, when he was feeling ignored by Def Jam and just went ahead and released the album without a label. And though Ocean remained silent, his mother was tweeting to fans about patience, and his ex-girlfriend confirmed the completion of the album.
But things got personal for me when Ocean canceled his performance at FYF in late August. Two days before he was set to perform, the festival released a statement saying that he had “decided on his own terms to cancel his appearance,” making it very clear this was his doing and not theirs. There was talk of him being in London trying to finish his album. But, like, what the fuck? Though I wasn’t one of those people that bought a $200 ticket solely to see him perform, and though his replacement was one of my favorite artists of all time, Kanye West, he couldn’t just do that! Yes, I may have literally cried when Kanye performed “Runaway,” but I probably would have cried when Ocean performed “Bad Religion,” too. I guess we’ll never know.
August passed with an announcement that Ocean had signed with a new PR agency. September brought a sighting at a sushi restaurant in SOHO — at least we know he’s alive — and some talk that Yung Lean would appear on the album. In late October, his barber, of all people, said the album was coming soon. All the while, his website has been mysteriously taken down, changed from frankocean.com to boydontcry.co, and then put back up. There’s been a merch tab added and a different font used, but absolutely no word on the new projects.
I get that we have to respect the creative process, but Ocean is being kind of an asshole. He’s gotta’ give us something to look forward to, or we’ll all begin giving up. I’ll hold out until the end of 2015, then I might have to move on.