It seems as if 2015 has released bombshell after bombshell as far as music goes. Drake released his mixtape-album and still has another in the works, Kendrick’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” is still being lauded in conversation and let’s not forget a certain gawd has still yet to drop arguably the Hiroshima of them all, Kanye West himself. And that’s not to disregard the releases of Earl Sweatshirt, Big Sean, Ghostface Killlah and BADBADNOTGOOD, Lupe Fiasco, Joey Bada$$, Wale, Hudson Mohawke, Run the Jewels 3 — and these are just off of the top of my head — but have we hit the scope of what’s to come in 2015, as huge as it’s been for music already? Does the ceiling begin and end with Kanye’s “So Help Me God”? It might have been… at least before yesterday.
Elusive releases and hiding in secrecy is about as trendy as man-buns and flannels are at this point in time, yet no matter how many albums remain privy and spring loose in the wee hours of the morning, the surrounding hype doesn’t cease any one bit. Kudos to Beyonce for being the first to perform this phenom, you have single-handedly coined a method of music sharing that is both annoying, yet effective. Mystery drops avoid album leaks and feed off of the whole #FOMO notion — “Oh shit, _____ dropped an album last night? I gotta hear it!’
I get it. It’s the whole element of surprise thing. You want what you can’t have, but even more so, you want what you didn’t know existed.
I don’t know if Frank Ocean got the memo, but if there’s anyone that’s has a mastery of secrecy, Frank Ocean just might be that dude – with Yasiin Bey/Mos Def following closely behind him. Pre-“Channel Orange,” Frankie was the dude that was somehow shrouded in mystery despite being the content bench player for Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future back in 2012. But you remember the story: a British journalist, having heard “Channel Orange” at a listening event questioned the use of his pronouns; noting a usage in “he” over “she,” and his sexuality was questioned.
A simple Tumblr post later and the secret and overall story arc for his anticipated album was revealed: the record was about Frank falling in love with a man and the resulting heartbreak. But then conclusions started to jump: Frank was homosexual; no, wait, he was bi. Well… truth was, that small bit wasn’t all that important. And to whoever did make it important, well, they missed the point.
Because “Channel Orange” proved to be one of the most intuitively intrusive albums of 2012 in both its nature and nurture. Not only was it a poetically honest account of love lost, the grid which he took us down plowed through fields of dreams that were eventually just torn down by the very facade that made it appealing. The parallels of an unrequited love and religion (“I can never make him love me.”) The goddess that might be Cleopatra for you tonight, but once she leaves that stage, she’s just another stripper, working to support her stay-at-home bum of a dude. You might have the nicest TV available now, but that doesn’t mean your clouded views of reality are made that much clearer by improved high-defintion.
To loosely play off of the aforementioned releases slated for the rest of 2015, next to “To Pimp a Butterfly,” the entitled “Boys Don’t Cry” offers itself as another self-deprecating expose. And in a world where our main concerns are about running through the city with our woes and how long do we spend in the malls (I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not trying to spend more than an hour in the mall, much less all day) a tri-annual periodic slap in the face forces us to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask the big questions of what exactly is important to us and why does it matter. (The short answer: it doesn’t even matter!)
Perhaps this article just proves that I’m alone too much and spend too much time within my own head, but I’m sure I’m not the only one that hasn’t forgotten the social tragedies of 2014. And I’m sure that I’m not the only one that sees music as one of the most accessible saving graces for such times. So for all the hoopla surrounding the likes of Kanye, Drake and everyone else set to drop this year, that’s great, I look forward to turning up and bumping those records in my car. But as far as hitting where it counts, Frank Ocean’s “Boys Don’t Cry” has quite the reputation and repertoire to account for another great record under the 28-year-old’s belt.
I don’t think anyone has called a cover ‘brilliant’ but as far his rendition of Aaliyah’s “At Your Best (You Are Love)” goes, Frankie’s falsetto encapsulates the song in a manner that carried a far more sense of urgency and desperation in comparison. With that same emotive approach met with the thought-invoking songwriting emulated in “Channel Orange,” “Boys Don’t Cry” could possess the potential to be a few among a small handful of albums, coming off a year of unrest and despondence, that pulls some weight in the world we live in now. Where music is all style and very little substance, I’m hoping “Boys Don’t Cry” is the next one to even out the balance.
However, until then I’ll be counting the days until July.