The politics of being Frank Ocean

In the same style as Leo Dicaprio and his long awaited Oscar, so have the days of the internet’s obsession with “where is Frank Ocean” come and gone. Four years after the release of Channel Orange, he’s brought the world Blond, an album deeply rooted in the idea of love. Heartbreak, emotion, masculinity, processing memories, and what it means to love someone who doesn’t love you back are all themes in the newest album.

Photo courtesy of Boys Don't Cry. 

Photo courtesy of Boys Don't Cry

It turns out that Boys Do Cry, unlike the previous title of the new album (Boys Don’t Cry), and Ocean isn’t afraid to approach the topic with the kind of raw emotion that only he is capable of. There’s no doubt that the album is good, musically. Looking to other reviews, it’s clear Blond has lived up to the hype, as much as it possibly can, as the much anticipated follow up to Channel Orange.

There’s really nothing to be said that hasn’t already been said. Pitchfork gave it a 9 out of 10, saying the new album is filled with “richly emotional songs for a quieter, more meditative space”. Rolling Stone calls it, “more mature, jammed less feverishly with ideas — but adventurous nonetheless”. It holds it’s own musically, and Blond seems like the logical next step from Channel Orange. But while many focus on the music, some read between the lines to understand how Blond has been influenced by queerness.

If Channel Orange was his musical “coming out” after critics widely discussed the use of male pronouns and a letter vaguely explaining his relationship with a man, Blond is the aftermath that leaves us with an understanding that emotion knows no gender or sexuality.

In a world where sexuality is often politicized, Frank Ocean’s Blond is a reminder that each individual’s experiences with love are deeply personal, heartbreaking, joyful, and everything in between. Anyone can relate, regardless of sexual orientation, and Ocean has made a point of this when talking about his own sexuality.

When asked if he is bisexual in an interview: “I didn’t need to label it for it to have impact, because when you’re talking about romantic love, both sides in all scenarios feel the same shit. As a writer, as a creator… I’m giving you what I feel like you can feel.” He went on to say,  “you can’t feel a box. You can’t feel a label. Don’t get caught up in that shit. There’s so much something in life. Don’t get caught up in the nothing. That shit is nothing, you know? It’s nothing. Vanish the fear.”

Simply put, his music and artistic direction doesn’t rely solely on his sexuality. Instead, they go hand in hand as listeners are able to empathize with the feelings of the singer without worrying about whether he’s gay, or straight, or bisexual, or anything in between. In a world where sexuality is often boxed and strictly labelled, some are left on the outskirts. When such a highly  anticipated album normalizes the idea of love as a universal truth, it can give people comfort in their identity.

Frank sums up the themes of the album through a Tumblr post about it; “ Maybe it links to a deep subconscious straight boy fantasy. Consciously though, I don’t want straight—a little bent is good. Boys do cry, but I don’t think I shed a tear for a good chunk of my teenage years. It’s surprisingly my favorite part of life so far.”