Frank Ocean finds new role as tastemaker
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Following the release of his debut album, Channel Orange, in July of 2012, Frank Ocean virtually disappeared from the public eye. Rumors swirled about the new music he was working on, but he continued to dodge cameras and radio waves alike. Due to frequent rumors that Frank would be releasing something by surprise, there would be days on end in which his fans dominated various social media websites with their expressions of excitement and anticipation.
Frank became a figure of almost mythical proportions. Some hypothesized that he had decided to retire from music altogether. Anytime he appeared in the media, it was scrutinized for clues related to new music. Some even compared his upcoming album to Detox, a long-anticipated third album from Dr. Dre that was announced over a decade ago.
Then, in August of 2016, Frank returned with scores of new artistic content. He delivered not one, but two new albums, Endless and Blond, the former of which served as the backdrop to a livestream of Frank constructing a staircase. Frank also released Boys Don’t Cry, a magazine containing contributions from several big names, including a poem from Kanye West and an interview of Lil B. For the time being, Frank’s fans were satiated.
Following the simultaneous release of two critically-acclaimed projects, many expected Frank to return to the virtual reclusiveness of the period following Channel Orange. This has not been the case, however. Frank recently struck a deal with Apple Music which included a bi-weekly show on Beats 1 Radio, entitled blonded RADIO. Through this show, Frank has become a powerful tastemaker, not only releasing new music of his own in a manner more consistent than any other period in his career, but also curating a playlist of selections from other artists. Every episode has contained one, sometimes two new singles from Frank, as well as variations of those singles, which have so far included remixes from ASAP Rocky, Young Thug and Travis Scott.
It remains unclear whether this continuous release of new singles is Frank gearing up to drop a new project or whether he’s simply expanding his discography and making it clear that he’s choosing to be a more active artist. Either way, Frank’s power as a tastemaker is sure to continue growing, as he introduces his ever-growing audience to more and more music every two weeks.