It’s rare to wait for anything in music. Once something is released, I can usually get it within maybe 3-4 hours depending on how much I want it. This goes double for a local artist. So when I have to actually leave my bat cave to find a project, it has to be something good right?
The Soul Train Awards really doesn’t get enough credit for consistently being one of the best celebrations of Black Culture. The Soul Train Awards is for us, by us and this year wasn’t any different.
Goddess/Songstress/Goddess Erykah Badu served as both host and executive producer of this year’s ceremonies. But those duties didn’t stop her from gracing the stage with future Soul Train Award Winner Big Baby D.R.A.M. to perform the track “Wi-Fi” from his debut album.
(Thoughts & Sarcasm written by V Triple I)
Four years is a long time. You could finish high school, raise a toddler, or build hype for an album. Frank choose the latter with the release of his highly anticipated album Blond. After a week and a half of having the album in the stratosphere, it seems that the album wasn’t the biggest spotlight of the rollout. Instead it is the apparent release from Def Jam records. Prior to Blond, Frank released a visual album titled Endless which served as the last of his contractual obligations to Def Jam. As of right now, the move is being analyzed by fans and industry heads alike to see if the double drop was legal and/or ethical, (there is a difference). Either way it goes, it’s obvious that we are listening to a new Frank.
But back to the four year roll out. The road to Blond has been sprinkled with bad release dates, fan theories and fake cryptic clues . Now we have the album. 17 tracks filled with doubt, self reflection, desire and everything else you would expect from a Frank Ocean album. Blond is gourmet in a fast food joint. In a time where no album stays in public rotation for more than a month, Blond was filling but hard to digest. At least a lot of the questions that fans had about Frank’s absence were answered.
downloaded streamed Blond it didn’t take long to notice the symbolism of his music. The opener track “Nikes” seems to talk about materialism and one night stands, but in reality “Nikes” is a goodbye letter to record label and partner Def Jam. From there, the album becomes more and more minimum. Frank has left the often layered sound that was all over Channel Orange for a more subtle and vocally-driven project. Blond is exercise in range and freedom. Frank’s vocals are pushed to the spotlight as opposed to the production, which shows an artistic growth and a new direction. The R&B sound that drew in Frank’s fanbase is gone and replaced with a more alternative pop sound. Though it’s not surprising looking at the current direction of urban music, it is a surprise that Blond was so immersed in this sound. The only references to Frank’s prior works are the lyrics that may refer back to one or two of the themes on Channel Orange. “Pink & White” gave ode to his Odd Future days and “Skyline” seems like a prelude to Super Rich Kids. The themes of loneliness, failed relationship, and insecurities are used as a way to give context to Frank’s growth in the last couple of years. The best example of this growth is “Nights”. Simply because of the reflection and realization that life is really just a big circle. Frank’s circle begins and ends with whether he will be remembered or not. That perspective is arguably the most complex thing about Blond.
The credit list for Blond is another stand-out point. We got King B, we got Kendrick, we got Yung Lean, we got Pharrell, and of course we got Andre. “Solo reprise” is the Andre stand alone track of the album that gives a quick critique of the direction of hip-hop. To put it on an album that is so far from hip-hop is more telling than the retweeted bar about ghostwriting. It fits, but you are pushing it. At the same time would you expect anything else from the god 3 Stacks? Exactly.
Four years of growth is painful. To change and aim for something higher means not reaching it for quite some time. A straight R&B album is an easy listen, but an alternative-art-pop-soul album takes much more effort on a listener’s part. My thoughts on this album are as scattered as the album itself. Blond gives me the same feeling that TLOP did: great but incomplete. Unlike TLOP, Blond isn’t modern enough to release so incomplete. I wonder if we will see an updated version in the future. The idea of Blond being a foundation is much more appealing than an album that is so bare-boned. If anything, a short album would have been more effective. But you gotta let an artist art. Seeing that I’m not an artist, Blond wasn’t easy to get through. Endless gave me so much more. I can deal with a sudden beat change or complete genre switch. I can’t deal with the same type of song over and over again, no matter how interesting the topic.
But at the end of the day how great is a high school graduate? You can get an okay job and buy cigarettes so it’s kinda cool but not really. What about a toddler? As much as a parent may be happy that their kid made it to the restroom, you still have to remember all the times they wet the bed. Am I saying Frank’s album is only okay and he wet the bed with Blond? Not at all. I’m saying that growth is painful but necessary, not matter how long it takes. Blond is growth and growth is never easy.
Favorite Tracks :
7. Self Control