Only a few hours after the release of Ocean's video album, Endless, an anonymous Apple Music representative confirmed to Rolling Stone that the new material would drop over the weekend, also hinting that the album Boys Don't Cry would be unleashed unto wanton fans under a new name.
First, on Friday morning, the Louisiana-reared songwriter born Christopher Breaux came with Endless (Apple Music ** 1/2), a "visual album" accompanied by a black-and-white film in which he methodically builds a spiral staircase to the stars. Blonde features collaborations with KOHH, Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Yung Lean, Austin Feinstein, André 3000, Sebastian, James Blake and Kim Burrell.
OCEAN also opened pop-up shops in LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, CHICAGO and LONDON-handing out free copies of a "BOYS DON'T CRY" art magazine that included a CD of the new album.
Blonde - the album Ocean has reportedly teased for more than a year as Boys Don't Cry - is something else entirely. Additionally, on Endless, Ocean samples a clip of drag queen Crystal LaBeija from the 1967 documentary, The Queen, and opens his 'zine with a confession that his auto obsession might be: "a deep subconscious straight boy fantasy...consciously though, I don't want straight - a little bent is good".
Following the release, Ocean posted on Tumblr: "I had the time of my life making all of this". Within that (alongside a poem by Kanye West about McDonald's food), was the much-heralded second version of the album, "Blond", containing a slightly different tracklist.
From its spoken interludes to its subject matter, Ocean covers plenty of the same ground on Blonde as he did on his 2012 masterpiece Channel Orange.
You can imagine the frustration he must've felt as chatter accumulated that he couldn't be bothered to finish his album, when in reality he was merely taking the time he felt necessary to get it right. The Bon Iver-assisted "White Ferrari" recalls the most melodic '80s new wave singles, with Ocean's wistful lyrics resting on a blanket of synths that give way to simple acoustic guitar strumming and ethereal harmonizing.
Ocean, whose soulful falsetto coupled with rapid vocal delivery straddles across hip-hop and R&B, re-emerged cryptically on August 1 with a grainy livestream video in which he appeared to be doing woodwork. Hopefully this means people can get it online, whether or not they have to pay for it.