Endless + Blonde: Giving Frank Ocean the respect he deserves
There was a time where a week or so would pass before a music review would come out--carefully curated, thoughtfully processed and impeccably executed, writers wrote for content instead of clicks. Back, back in the day (some refer to it as the 90's--I realize that's officially "old school" now, sigh) when Lauryn Hill dropped the timeless Miseducation and Jay-Z put us on to Reasonable Doubt, a chosen few were given first listen and actually listened. Before having an opinion, they thought about the music, the nuance, the reference, the whole product. I liked that time. Though I was young (heavy emphasis on young) then, it was clear that people put some respeck on music's name.
On the cusp of pure paranoia from on-lookers, having teased tortured fans for months regarding when his album would be released, Frank Ocean gave us an album and a visual entity ensuring our ears, minds, spirits and brains would have something to engage with for at least 3 succeeding months. I've been listening to both for about a week non-stop, hearing and feeling Frank. And, I think, I'm prepared to speak on it! (make sure you read the last three words as a Southern Baptist Pastor).
I'm going to focus on a few favs--songs and lyrics. Similar to Miseducation, the words to these projects will mean something different years from now I mean after having experienced all a fuck boy has to offer not even caring about how he is impacting your life and maybe I'll come back and share with you fly people how songs like Ivy and Godspeed speak to me then. But until then, sip your tea to this:
"I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me...." [Ivy, Blonde]
The first time a man said he loved me, we were on AOL Instant Messenger chat and I was in high school. I said "thank you" and moved along with the conversation--probably about our favorite color and cereal (Lucky Charms for those who are interested). And before you paint me the bitch, he spelled love like "luv" so it didn't count anyways. It was a time when I felt like I wasn't one of the chosen that could or would love and I didn't feel like I was dreaming, nor did I think this boy knew much about what he was talking about. But I loved the idea of love and dreamt about it frequently.
"...If you could see my thoughts you would see our faces..."
As Frank moves past the chorus and delves into the second verse, he reminds me of all the men I wished would've read my thoughts that were protected like an armor truck throughout my years and years of dating--thoughts that didn't necessarily profess love or admiration, but thoughts that they needed to hear regardless. It reminded me of all my friends who weren't prepared for the love they encountered and of broken up couples who, no matter how much denial, know "the feeling still deep down is good".
Relationships start from nothing, with no way of seeing its future. Love forms from nothing, often turning to hate and back to love again. Time passes, youth turns to understanding and we dream on about possibilities and if we're lucky, living its reality. Frank has me playing this song non-stop, waiting for my turn.
"I will always love you how I do/The table is prepared for you/Wishing you Godspeed, glory [Godspeed, Blonde]
A seemingly peaceful break up song, while listening to Godspeed I couldn't help but view it through a lens of self--breaking up with old versions of me, promising myself that I'll be there for her should she need me, loving her, but letting her go, wishing the newer version glory and success.
We've all gone through periods of transformation and change--understanding the person who we've had to be in the past or chosen to be for whatever reasons. We tend to look down on that person the way the subject of Godspeed views "where [she] came from", never taking moments to appreciate her for bringing you to where you currently stand. I love Godspeed for its patient forcefulness. Frank sings "I let go of my claim on you". A love song to self, separating past versions from present models, "I'll always love you until the time we die." Peace God or Goddess.
In a seamless transition from song to song, emotions to feelings, I listen to and rewind frequently many of the songs on Endless. Between lyrics like "enough time to know nothing at all" [Rushes, Endless] and "what if we decide to live by choice" [Rushes To, Endless] this album speaks to the existential parts of me, pushing and pulling at the quarter life crisis that many of us experience; moving past real and imagined, love and hate, drugs and sobriety Frank Ocean puts all of our demons on blast, exposing our addictions whether its to our electronic devices, actual drugs or to others, he blurs the lines and I love it.
Listen to Blonde and Endless on Apple Music.