Sunday, January 01, 2017
NICE AS F*CK! : The Albums, 2016.
Moms drops a lot of knowledge on that voicemail message to Frank, but it's this point that stands out.
"Don't try to be someone else. Be yourself and know that that's good enough. Don't try to be someone else... Be secure with yourself."
She signs off and waves goodbye and we're back with Frank, "Solo", finding ourselves at the start of a block of songs ["Solo" to "Pretty Sweet"] where Frank lets those words from Mom linger in the back of his head, and echo + color this creative outpouring from his heart.
Those first few rounds with Blonde I was underwhelmed. I wanted an instant attachment. I wanted catchy hooks, call backs to soul giants past, quotable bangers, repeatable love songs. I wanted something to latch onto like I latched onto Channel Orange. I did not want to be challenged or work too long or too hard to find a soft place in my heart for Frank Ocean's Blonde.
And then one day a funny thing happened. That thing where you hear an album differently. Where, for some reason, the connection is finally made, and you get it. You come around.
It happened. Some day. Can't even recall the date or the time, but it happened. I was moved. I got it. I loved "Nikes". Still do. And "Ivy". And the N*E*R*D vibes of "Pink + White", but that day it was all about what I heard and experienced after skipping thru "Be Yourself" again and diving into the songs that followed.
(After a while, "Be Yourself" was just too real to sit through & experience every time)
You experience this throughout the album, but it is during this block of songs where what is truly great about Blonde, clicks. Frank Ocean not trying to be someone else. Frank Ocean having the freedom as a Black Male Artist to be just that, an artist. Not just an R&B artist. Not just a verse-hook-verse-hook, ear worm heavily processed artist, no.
A poet. An old soul. A spoken word artist. A tortured balladeer. A free spirit. Queer. Open. An inspiration.
And all the reasons why he's important. Showcased here. Why we spill so much ink on the musical offerings.
"Be Yourself", she said, Frank Ocean.
And he listened. It took. It's why Blonde is often awe inspiring. This is joy, this is summer. So secure with itself, and a sight to behold because of that.
KEY TRACKS: Solo/Nights/Futura Free
03/angel olsen/my woman
04/danny brown/atrocity exhibition
05/blood orange/freetown sound
06/kanye west/the life of pablo
07/radiohead/a moon shaped pool
09/helado negro/private energy
10/car seat headrest/teens of denial
12/a tribe called quest/"we got it from here... thank you 4 your service"
14/nice as fuck/nice as fuck
15/childish gambino/"awaken, my love!"
17/parquet courts/human performance
19/devendra banhart/ape in pink marble
21/the julie ruin/hit reset
22/jessy lanza/oh no
23/junior boys/big black coat
24/majid jordan/majid jordan