The latest (9/9): Frank Ocean's Blonde album is on Spotify! Stream it below:
July 10, 2012: Frank Ocean releases his debut studio album, Channel Orange.
Dec. 12, 2012: In an interview with the Guardian, Frank Ocean states: "[Storytelling's] the more interesting part about making music for me, or making albums and songs and stuff. So much so that I might not make another album. I might just write a novel next."
Feb. 19, 2013: After the July 2012 release of his debut album Channel Orange, Frank reveals some details of his sophomore LP to Zane Lowe (who was then a BBC Radio 1 host). "I'm like 10, 11 songs into this next thing. It's another cohesive thing bordering on a concept album again. At the end of Channel Orange there's 'Golden Girl' and I kind of want to extend that feeling into the next record," he shares.
Feb. 2013: Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan spills the beans that Frank worked on a track with guitarist Martin Gore. “Martin and [The Knife producer and Delta Machine collaborator] Christoffer Berg ended up doing a track with him, which I think is going to be part of his new record," says Gahan. "Martin did some electronics and some modular synthesizer stuff he really wanted.”
April 24, 2013: During a red carpet interview at the Time 100 Gala, the artist lets a few major (and totally awesome) album inspirations slip:
"[For Channel Orange] it was a lot of Stevie Wonder, and this time it's a lot of Beach Boys and Beatles and whatnot. So we'll see how it trickles into the music and the final product. I can't say much other than that."
July 2013: Jay Z drops his 12th studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. Ocean makes a guest feature on a standout track, "Oceans." Later, during a London concert, Frank performs a new song reportedly titled "Pray." Then, in the middle of an ongoing feud with Chris Brown, he pens a verse set to Migos' popular "Versace" song. The opening lines ("You could stay seated / I'm taking that GRAMMY / Your music is sloppy") read like a direct diss to the fellow R&B star.
Aug. 13, 2013: A week before his Doris release, Earl Sweatshirt drops his Frank Ocean-assisted "Sunday" track from the album. At the time, both are members of Odd Future.
Aug. 20, 2013: Frank unexpectedly appears on "Wildfire (Reprise)"—a track off John Mayer's sixth album, Paradise Valley. The two previously worked together on Channel Orange's "Pyramids" and "White," where Mayer played the guitar.
March 2014: Music video director/filmmaker Nabil Elderkin (who directed "Pyramids," "Novacane" and "Swim Good") uploads an Instagram photo of Frank brooding in the recording studio. The singer then teams up with Diplo and The Clash's Mick Jones and Paul Simonon for "Hero"—a track that's a part of Converse's Three Artists, One Song series.
April 2014: Ocean, who apparently loves to drop bombs on Tumblr, exclaims on the social media platform that his album is almost done:
"I’M OPENING UP FOR OUTKAST THIS SUMMER AT PEMBERTON SO I MIGHT SKIP ON COACHELLA TO STAY IN THE GROOVE AND FINISH THIS BITCH… I FEEL LIKE THEY’RE FINNA WILD OUT THO. FUCK IT.. BRING THE HELICOPTER OUT."
Producer Hit-Boy releases an Instagram snippet of a Nas song titled "No Such Thing as White Jesus," which features Frank Ocean. The song (which, in 2016, has yet to be released) is reportedly meant for the rapper's Life is Good album.
June 2014: Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson says he had songs that could possibly make the cut for a new album that included guest features by Lana Del Rey, Zooey Deschanel and—of course—Frank Ocean. It's the musical circle of life!
Get a feel for Ocean's reclusive personality in our interview with the singer in the UK:
November 2014: Frank drops his "Memrise" teaser snippet on Tumblr, along with the lyrics. See MUSIC section below.
December 2014: Lil B pops up! A Tumblr photo surfaced online of the rapper and singer sitting next to each other on a sofa with the caption: "RARE photo of LIL B x FRANK OCEAN IN THE STUDIO TOGETHER!! NEW MUSIC COMING SOON! Collect this! - Lil B"
March 2015: Wait—not so fast! Once Wilson's No Pier Pressure official album tracklist pops up, both Del Rey and Ocean are missing. "Well, Frank Ocean didn’t want to do the song. He wanted to do rap, so we canceled him," Wilson says a Vulture interview.
April 2015: On Tumblr (duh), Ocean rocks the music world when he uploads a photo of himself gazing at two stacks of magazines—one titled Boys Don't Cry. "I got two versions. I got twoooo versions," he captions the image along with the hashtags #ISSUE1 #ALBUM3 #JULY2015 #BOYSDONTCRY. Soon after, Billboard confirms that a new album and zine would arrive in July.
July 2015: WELP! The release of the Boys Don't Cry album is nowhere to be found. We all weep tears of deception.
August 2015: Ryan Breaux, Ocean's younger brother, posts an Instagram teaser with the caption: “Its finally out! Link in my bio 🔥.” But the purported iTunes link was a troll move. Once clicked, it leads to the Rick Astley's infamous "Never Gonna Give You Up" video.
In a totally last-minute move, Frank cancels his FYF Fest set just a day before the Los Angeles festival kicked off. His publicist claims the reason was "due to a scheduling conflict beyond our control." Kanye West is picked up as the replacement.
Feb. 11, 2016: He's alive! Ocean appears out of the woodwork to support Kanye West at his The Life of Pablo listening party/Yeezy Season 3 fashion show.
Feb. 29: A three-minute long leak appears online. It's quickly pulled from Soundcloud, although two brief Instagram clips—featuring different songs—last a little longer. According to the uploader's caption, the music was played at a "very very secret frank ocean listening party."
April 1: Producer and songwriter known as Malay—who worked on 13 of the 17 tracks on Frank Ocean's 2012 debut album, Channel Orange—gives some serious scoop to Pitchfork. "Frank’s exploring different vibes completely on this album," says Malay, who handled much of Zayn Malik's first solo album, Mind of Mine. "I wouldn’t say it’s vocally looser but just his mentality; it doesn’t seem as meticulous at certain times.” Much of that looseness came from Frank's decision to often record "with a handheld mic sitting in the control room."
He goes on:
"I always tell people: When he’s ready, the world is gonna get it. It could be tomorrow… well not tomorrow but maybe a month [laughs]. We’ve all been working hard. He’s been working super hard. I feel like he’s working harder than he’s ever worked in his life. I’m excited for everyone to hear it. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, for sure."
May 6: Devon Maloney profiles James Blake for Pitchfork and learns that the new album The Colour in Anything was heavily Frank Ocean–influenced. The 27-year-old British producer/singer specifically admires Ocean's uniquely collaborative process, "the way he writes, the strength of what he does, who he is." And they've become "very good friends," meaning, yeah, Blake's had some contact with Frank Ocean's new album. Asked if it will be worth the wait (two months shy of four years now), Blake answers, "Yes, from what I know. It may be subject to change. He is onto something, he really is."
May 25: Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about his new Frank Ocean–assisted LP, James Blake—a.k.a. the guy who gave us the last Frocean album update—serves up a bit more news. Evidently Blake's The Colour in Anything track "Always" samples an unreleased Frank track called "Godspeed"; Blake's unsure if it'll appear on the album that may or may not still be called Boys Don't Cry. The two also collaborated on sessions for Frank's album, but...
"...I can’t [share any details] because I don’t know any. Nobody knows. You could probably talk to almost anybody involved in that record and I’m not sure anybody would be able to tell you what’s happening."
That said, Blake's positive that Frank "is going to make people very happy.” He also tells Rolling Stone that the Channel Orange follow-up is what really made him a fan. "It's better. You grow, you improve, you nail a new message to the board," he says. "He's had time to mature. It's really cool to watch."
July 2: Ocean updates his official website with a graphic of a library check-out card on the homepage. "Boys Don't Cry," the LP's rumored title, is written at the bottom with various due-date stamps above it. The final reads July 2016, with the exact date scribbled out:
July 4: Bay Area rapper Iamsu! trolls the Internet when he jokes about listening to Frank Ocean's new album, tweeting, "He did not disappoint! thanks for letting me be apart of history bro!" before following up with, "I fully lied about that frank ocean shit I was just joking." Not funny, man!
Can't wait till that new Frank Ocean record drops soon! A Lil Birdy told me a secret last night 🛰🛰🛰🛰— Theophilus London (@TheophilusL) July 11, 2016
twe all gonna eat soon, we all need these vibes from franky!!!— Theophilus London (@TheophilusL) July 11, 2016
Aug. 1: The New York Times confirmed it: Frank Ocean's Boys Don't Cry, his second studio album, following July 2012's Channel Orange, is coming out this Friday, Aug. 5. The news comes from an Apple Music source; the streaming service will reportedly have the album as an exclusive for two weeks.
Earlier in the day, boysdontcry.co site was overtaken by an Apple Music–branded video stream featuring workbenches, some music and an anonymous figure building something. The internet quickly uploaded the synthy background music, which has clearly been watching the '80s-set Stranger Things...
The video is a loop of a project by Francis Soriano:
The camera eventually shifted to show a human-height mass of speakers, a 2002 artwork by Tom Sachs titled Toyan's. Sachs told The Fader he and Frank have "an ongoing creative dialogue," part of which involved Frank asking for advice "on some carpentry issues." The two worked with Soriano on the video. As for what's next, Sachs said, "I speak for all mankind when I say I can't wait to see what's to come."
Aug. 5: The joke's on everyone, as Frank Ocean's Boys Don't Cry album did NOT release on Friday (Aug. 5) as previously reported by The New York Times. Instead, we received two Snapchat filters that summed up our thoughts on the endless album release rollercoaster. But there is one more date, Nov. 13, on Frank's mysterious "Due Date" library card. So stay tuned to find out if Boys Don't Cry will arrive then.
Aug. 16: Malay, Ocean's longtime creative partner, gave an incredibly vague update on the LP. In an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit, he said:
"First of all we all massively appreciate and love you guys, Frank has told me this himself many times. To be fair tho, art cannot be rushed. It's about making sure the perfect aesthetic for the situation has been reached, to do that, takes constant tweaking, trial and error...That goes for any creative situation."
Aug. 18: Lil B officially confirmed that he worked on Frank Ocean's Boys Don't Cry album. In a Dazed interview, he said: "Frank is amazing. He’s a beautiful man with a beautiful voice. He’s a very strong man, a very strong person. Anything that I can do to help him, I will." The two friends were previously photographed in the studio together in December 2014.
Aug. 19: After making a surprise reappearance on his livestream, the singer dropped his 45-minute long Endless visual album.
Aug. 20: Frank Ocean's sophomore album, now titled Blonde, is officially here, accompanied by his Boys Don't Cry magazine.
Pharrell: The mega-producer, who co-wrote and co-produced Channel Orange's "Sweet Life," headed back in the studio with Frank in 2013.
Tyler, the Creator: The two Odd Future members and close friends have already popped up on each other's songs (2011's "She" and 2012's "End/Golden Girl"), so it makes all the sense they will work together again.
Lil B: In 2014, the two were photographed in the studio together. Lil B's caption read "NEW MUSIC COMING SOON!" But it's been two years, so let's hope the track(s) sees the light of day soon.
Danger Mouse: In the same BBC Radio 1 interview where he mentioned Pharrell, Frank also said he booked studio time with the New York-based producer.
Tame Impala: Frank revealed he'd love to work with the Aussie psychedelic rock outfit in the same BBC Radio 1 interview.
King Krule: He said the same of the British singer-songwriter, as well.
Hit-Boy: Ocean hopped on a Nas track produced by Hit-Boy two years ago. And based on the producer's discography, anything is possible.
Rodney Jerkins: According to Billboard, Frank was in the studio with the legendary producer.
Happy Perez: The publication said the same for Perez, who worked with Ocean on 2011's Nostalgia, Ultra.
Charlie Gambetta: See above.
Kevin Ristro: See above.
Jay Z: After they collaborated on Watch the Throne's "No Church in the Wild" back in 2011, Ocean then hopped on "Oceans," a track for Hov's 2013 Magna Carta Holy Grail album. A third collaboration could be possible.
Kanye West: The two previously collaborated on WTT as well as The Life of Pablo's "Wolves." It's not a far stretch to say they also worked together on Ocean's sophomore LP.
Martin Gore: The Depeche Mode guitarist hit the studio with the singer in 2013. Let's hope the track makes its way on this new album.
Malay: The Grammy award-winning producer and Ocean's longtime creative partner was one of the key players of Channel Orange. A recent Reddit AMA alluded that he also worked on Boys Don't Cry.
Check out Fuse's 2013 interview with Om'Mas Keith, one of the forces behind Channel Orange.
Frank dropped this comforting teaser out of the sky (well, Tumblr to be exact) in November 2014. So it can possibly appear in full form on the sophomore LP.
He first debuted this song during a London concert, and its brooding, romantic vibe fits into Frank's melancholic sound.
Released as part of Converse's Three Artists, One Song series, this was a stunning blend of genres from Ocean, Diplo and The Clash members. It further proved the singer's musical flexibility.
3. Pink + White
4. Be Yourself
6. Skyline To
7. Self Control
8. Good Guy
10. Solo (Reprise)
11. Pretty Sweet
12. Facebook Story
13. Close to You
14. White Ferrari
17. Futura Free
1. Pretty Sweet
2. Mitsubishi Sony
4. Pink & White
7. Skyline To
9. White Ferrari
12. Futura Free
August 20th, 2016
For more, try:
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–The Complete Guide to the Next 9 Marvel Movies
–The Complete Guide to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Check out Fuse's Back of the Class podcast, with discussion of Frank Ocean's return at the 12:35 mark: