Four years ago, we heard Frank Ocean fretting in the back of a taxi, begging the driver to lend an ear. "Taxi-driver / Be my shrink for the hour / Leave the meter running," he sang, on "Bad Religion," from "channel ORANGE." "It's rush hour, so take the streets if you wanna / Just outrun the demons, could you?" Now Ocean has turned to flashier vehicles to help him outrun those demons. During the week that he released his new project, after years of delays, he was filmed street-racing sports cars in Los Angeles with the rappers A AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator.
Frank Ocean has finally stopped toying with our emotions. After four long years and many delays, the enigmatic singer has given the clamouring masses not one, but two new albums. His second studio effort Blond was released Saturday on Apple Music, following a surprise 45-minute visual album Endless that debuted on the streaming service late Thursday. SEE ALSO: 10 WTF moments from Frank Ocean's NSFW'Nikes' music video For some reason, the album is called Blonde not Blond on Apple Music. It could be an auto-correct error, or it could be Ocean playing with your mind.
Frank Ocean has released "Blonde," his second album in as many days, turning the enigmatic R&B crooner's comeback into both a test of endurance and an ambitious reworking of the album release. After weeks of rumors, the singer on Saturday released "Blonde," the official follow-up to his heralded, Grammy-winning 2012 major-label debut, "Channel Orange." The 17-track LP is available exclusively to Apple Music streaming subscribers, with one exception: Copies of the work accompanied a free print publication titled "Boys Don't Cry" at pop-up shops in cities including New York, Chicago, London and Los Angeles (on Fairfax Avenue). Dozens of pop music heavyweights are credited on the album including Andre 3000, Beyoncé, James Blake, Jamie XX, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Malay, Om'Mas Keith, Tyler the Creator, Rick Rubin and Pharrell Williams. David Bowie, Elliott Smith and the Beatles are also credited as contributors, though it is unclear if Ocean is crediting samples or if he got his hands on unreleased recordings.
So much about Frank Ocean's gripping new album, "Blonde," seems to put it in line with recent high-profile records by Beyoncé, Rihanna and Kanye West, from its short-notice release to its limited availability to its expansive roster of collaborators. Push beyond the branding strategy, though, and actually listen to "Blonde" -- which appeared in physical form Saturday at pop-up shops in four cities and can now be streamed or downloaded only through iTunes and Apple Music -- and you quickly realize how different the R&B singer's project is from "Lemonade," "Anti" and "The Life of Pablo." Where those earlier albums seemed to take in as much of pop music as possible -- to use every sound and texture at the disposal of today's Internet-equipped creator -- "Blonde" is rigorously contained, almost ascetic in its clean-lined minimalism. One song is even called "Self Control." Many of the 17 tracks feature Ocean's sturdy but yearning voice over acoustic or undistorted electric guitar; others add keyboards, strings or programmed beats but avoid the layered density that defines virtually everything on the radio -- and that's despite a crowded credits list that includes Beyoncé, West, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Rubin, Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead and the Beatles (from whom Ocean borrows a bit of "Here, There and Everywhere" at the end of his "White Ferrari").
When the world seemed like it was melting (not literally, but that too), we had music. We got two surprise albums from Frank Ocean, a spiritual and groundbreaking collection of anthems from Chance the Rapper, and consistent pop excellence from Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and much more all made a tumultuous year a little more bearable. In a feat that at times seemed impossible due to the sheer amount of wonderful music made this year, Mashable rounded up the top 11 tunes put out in 2016. Enjoy, and don't @ us. The mannequin challenge might have been what launched this song into the American conscious during the last few months of 2016, but brash hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd has been hustling for years.