The Mysterious Case of Frank Ocean

By Shantel Rowe

Four years have passed since Frank Ocean released his critically acclaimed album, “Channel Orange,” and many fans are wondering if album number three is anywhere on the horizon. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, producer Malay discussed the conceptual tone behind Ocean’s third album and revealed his own uncertainty over its release date. Malay, who helped produce Zayn Malik’s debut album, described Ocean’s next project as less “meticulous,” which he attributes to the singer’s decision to record “with a handheld mic.”

Despite the production details, Malay revealed that he too is uncertain as to when Ocean’s next project will be released and simply stated, “When he’s ready, the world is gonna get it.”

Malay’s interview has just been one of a few glimpses of, some would say misleading, hope that fans have received in regards to Ocean’s new material. The singer began teasing fans in 2013, when he revealed that the new album was being heavily influenced by both the Beatles and Beach Boys. Later that year he collaborated with Jay-Z on his 12th studio album “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” on the riveting track “Oceans,” and John Mayer’s single “Wildfire(Reprise).”

While critics and fans alike enjoyed hearing the sublime tone Ocean manages to capture in his vocals, the features left little to no clue as to what avenues he would be exploring musically. By 2014, the singer had switched management teams and teased a single entitled “Memrise.” Still, a full year would pass before Ocean would give his fans the most substantial clue to his sophomore LP’s release.

In April 2015, the singer uploaded a photo of himself holding a magazine with “Boys Don’t Cry” bolded across its cover to which he hashtagged “album3,” and “boysdontcry.” The reveal of an album title sparked a frenzy online as many assumed that “Boys Don’t Cry” would arrive no later than July. However, as the year came to a close, disappointment became a normative for those patiently waiting for the mystery album.

For fans feeling engaged in a game of hide and seek, there seems to a universal line of question for the singer. So Frank Ocean, what’s taking so long?

Despite the evident amount of anticipation for a “Boys Don’t Cry release,” there may be more pressure looming over the album’s success given its predecessor. In 2013, Ocean’s sophomore album “Channel Orange,” earned a Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album along with the title of “best album of 2012” from a string of publications such as The New York Times and Billboard. Given all of the praise, it would only seem logical for the singer to feel pressure to live up to the hype his talent has built for him.

The music industry has also been riding the wave of unplanned and unexpected album releases, which started when Beyoncé dropped her self-titled fifth album. Gone are the days of promotional tours and radio interviews, as major artists such as Kanye West and Adele are simply releasing their music knowing loyal fan bases will support the respective projects, regardless of extensive marketing.

It can be speculated that Ocean is taking any of these routes when it comes to his new project and according to Malay, “Boy’s Don’t Cry” could be released within a month. However, the only certainty is within loyal listeners who are waiting and watching, and perhaps even mumbling “tag you’re it, Frank.”

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