Frank Ocean generated a lot of headlines and conversation surrounding the details of the inevitable release of his second album. The release date was pushed back at least fifteen times, he announced a date for fans to expect Boys Don’t Cry, which was then renamed Blonde, and nothing arrived. Fans were devastated and furious with the rapping flaneur’s silence. Eventually, Ocean shared two albums: one to listen to and one to watch. Blonde has been met with positive feedback and it is as though the process of waiting for new material wasn’t actually that bad. Admittedly, I was not one of the people refreshing news updates of the album’s release but I’m a person and like everyone else in the world I’ve experienced the smoking and bubbling cauldron that is waiting, time and delays. We have become so eager to measure time and constantly point out the timeframes on almost everything we and those around us do. It’s paralysing, and by focusing on how long it will take to get from A to B instead of doing it there is a delay and then time slips away and suddenly days and weeks pass.
Timing is one of the most frustrating and confusing concepts to humans, particularly now when everything is so immediate and can be tracked and timed so accurately. Which is why people were getting so aggravated by Frank Ocean. Looking at it with an outlier perspective it could be said that Ocean’s delaying gratification demonstrated how shockingly impatient and easily agitated we have become. In the end his fans were awarded with two full length albums so the wait was not entirely in vain. The moral of the story this week is the timeless (if you’ll excuse the expression) saying, if something is really worthwhile the wait will always pay off.
Frank Ocean – ‘Nikes’
“I’ve got two versions.” This was the most cryptic message to be decoded by Reddit users, journalists and Frank Ocean fans across the world this week as patience was rewarded with not one, but two new musical projects by the prolifically unorthodox rapper. Ocean garnered a level of attention and anticipation for Blonde, the follow up album to Channel Orange, as well as a visual album entitled Endless, culminating in a hysteria that surpassed the hype surrounding Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. Being in the unique position to have such a magnified focus on his music and image, what is Frank Ocean saying with his words and video? The video for ‘Nikes’, the opening song to Blonde, has a little bit of everything for everyone. There’s nudity, a rapping Chihuahua, a dancing devil, a lot of glitter, party scenes and a lady of a certain age in a metallic bikini being caressed by her younger man. In all, I think it’s safe to say that Frank Ocean is All In with artfully maturing his aesthetic and being more adventurous with how we experience and long for music.
Will Butler – ‘Friday Night’ (Merge Records)
It’s safe to say that we can all relate to the irrational angsty actions of Will Butler’s fictitious teenage son in his vide for ‘Friday Night’, from the live album of the same title. It’s a little disorientating to watch a music video with a storyline that is out of context for a song from a live album which was, obviously, recorded in a venue in front of an audience, an audience whose participation and presence you can hear. However, actress and comedienne, Jo Firestone has given this already lively track a new lease of life and meaning by following a sullen teenager on an afternoon of reigned in rebellion which involves stuffing his face with chewing gum, throwing his ice cream cone on the footpath and not walking on the pedestrianised road markings just because he can choose to. He doesn’t want to be just any old chicken crossing the road.
Lisa Hannigan – ‘Ora’ (Play It Again Sam)
Lisa Hannigan settled us nicely into a week of new music by unveiling her Bob Gallagher directed video for ‘Ora’, the latest single from her newly released third solo album, At Swim. The intricate simplicity of the animated video mirrors the unassuming complexity of Hannigan’s music. Ora translates as ‘beautiful seacoast’ a landscape that has provided a structure to the songs on At Swim. This single captures Hannigan at her finest, the sounds and videos born from the songs present a wonderful reinvigoration of her style as a songwriter using music to tell stories. Naturally, with Bob Gallagher at the helm of conceiving an idea for the video we are treated to a really enchanting scene of Lisa’s shadowed profile singing as her song guides a paper made version of herself finding her way along the beautiful seacoast.
YG, Macklemore, G-Eazy – ‘FDT (Fuck Donald Trump) Pt. 2’ (Def Jam Records)
2016 has been a really unpredictable year for several reasons. David Bowie and Terry Wogan passed away, terrorism impinges upon the freedom feel at ease in our daily routines, Brexit actually happened and America is facing a terrifyingly tumultuous future with the scary reality that Trump could become the forty-fifth President of the United States. Strange things and even stranger times. The reality of these social fractions makes for fertile soil to encourage the seed of creativity, especially for songwriters. YG is about to embark on a tour this autumn entitled Fuck Donald Trump, so it is fitting that he released a video for ‘FDT (Fuck Donald Trump) Part 2’, directed by Matt Hobbs. We’ve become accustomed to videos made up of snippets of events happening on the streets this year and this offering is no different with scenes of anti-Trump campaigners at rallies and riots across America. Macklemore and G-Eazy collaborated with YG on the song that serves as a reminder of how awful it would be if the golden haired dragon was to take up residency in the White House and hopefully it resonates with the young voters and fans of these artists.
Mndsgn – ‘Cosmic Perspective’ (Stones Throw)
Invariably when I am researching and watching new music videos there’s one that will, for no reason at all, make me laugh and not necessarily because the concept of the video is actually funny. West Coast Hip Hop producer, Mndsgn is responsible for said baffled giggles with his video for ‘Cosmic Perspective’, a song you can imagine being played at both a boutique hotel bar on a Friday after work and blasting from speakers on a street to soundtrack the antics of youthful summer evenings. The visual of this video reminded me of (again inexplicably) The Mighty Boosh for the very consciously curated outfits of glitter and lamé that desperately want to exude nonchalance and a “this oversized sequin bodysuit was just waiting for me on my chaise longue,” attitude. Also, there is a feeling that this is possibly what most of George Clinton’s Parliament party nights may have looked like.