On Thursday, a group of people across the world watched an empty room on the internet. Not such a strange idea in the era of live streaming, when you can watch your favorite video game being played on Twitch or your favorite athlete buying shoes on Facebook Live. But these people were simply asking one question of the stream's owner: "Where's the album, Frank? Where's the album? Frank? Album? Frank?! FRANK!!" Such is life in the era of the reclusive Frank Ocean. Channel Orange, his studio debut, came out to critical acclaim in 2012. It was one of the best albums that year, getting Frank a handful of Grammy nods and wins. Channel Orange was on repeat on iPods, turntables and 8-track players all summer (maybe I'm misremembering the technology of 2012, but it sure does feel like Channel Orange came out in a different time).
Surely, a follow-up album was due? Quickly? Kanye was two years removed from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Watch the Throne had been out for a year, with Yeezus a year away. We were in an era of hip-hop albums dropping quickly and often. So Frank had to be dropping something soon? Right?
Don't hold you breath.
Frank showed up on the season 38 premiere of SNL, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, hot off of Ted, the summer's surprise hit (note: Ted, a movie about a talking teddy bear and Mark Wahlberg singing "Fuck you thunder, you can suck my dick," had a sequel before Channel Orange). He brought along John Mayer, and performed "Thinking Bout You" and part of "Pyramids."
And now, four years later, we have nothing. No follow-up, no Channel Blue or Channel Yellow or Channel Burgundy, nothing. So, one has to wonder at this point, what the hell is Frank Ocean up to?
Hyping his nonexistent album
Yes, there has been hype for Frank's second album in recent months. The name Memrise was thrown around. A snippet was released. Not a ton to look to. Now, the album is probably called Boys Don't Cry. July last year, everyone was certain it was on its way. Maybe fall 2015, or winter 2015, okay, well, spring 2016. No, it's definitely a summer album. So July 2016. July, he's saying July! Awesome! What's today's date? August 6th? You've got to be kidding me.
Maybe Frank is like the kid who didn't do his homework, and keeps delaying turning it in as the semester rolls by. There is no album, it's all made up, he said 2015 a few years ago and then 2015 came and he realized his procrastination had gotten the best of him. So, delay the album. Next summer is so far off, he's got time. And now summer is almost over, and Frank has realized that he's done it again! Damn it, late again! Oh well, I hear summer 2017 is a lovely time to release an album.
Not being in "Wolves"
It's not like Frank's been absent completely. He's made appearances, he's around. We know he's not hidden in a North Korean bunker somewhere, doing private shows for Kim Jong-un. He's done features! He was on the original version of "Wolves" on The Life of Pablo (which was also delayed inexplicably, but, that led to "Waves" so I'm not so critical of Ye).
Kanye dropped a video for "Wolves" last week, featuring Vic Mensa and Sia. But no Frank. So, he's clearly not too busy shooting music videos with his friends to drop the album. Maybe he's out looking for Ye's sandwich (to be honest, don't leave your fridge open Kanye). Maybe he really took a liking to the sample of "Panda" and is out buying several BMW's and whatever else Desiigner is saying. Maybe he's consoling Taylor Swift after World Snake Day!
Frank has been live streaming himself doing something for several days now. He's making something (some people speculate they could be stairs or even speakers). He shows up every once in a while, hangs for a bit, says nothing, and leaves. Is he going to start playing the music out of the blue at one point? Last Thursday was a hopeful time, after The New York Times had put out an article saying the album would release Friday. So, 11pm Thursday night, people waited (Apple Music releases new albums at 11pm the day before). Nothing. Midnight. Nothing. Midnight Central, Mountain, and the Pacific time passed by. The world waited. The world was disappointed.
Frank's livestream is still going on (as of writing, it's sitting idle, displaying an empty room). Eventually, music might start. Frank might enter frame and start performing. No one knows, save one man: Frank.
Some other theories
Alright, lightning round. Some other just as likely excuses as to why Boys Don't Cry hasn't dropped yet.
- Frank is hanging out with Biggie Smalls and Tupac in the lost city of Atlantis.
- Frank is secretly competing at the Rio Olympics, as goalkeeper for the US Men's water polo team
- Frank is auditioning to be the new band leader on Comedy Bang! Bang!
- Frank has fused a horrifying leathery mask to his face and become the Republican Party's presidential candidate.
- Frank embedded a secret message in Channel Orange proving that the moon landing was faked by Stanley Kubrick, and the government has imprisoned him, letting him out only to do features.
While the thought of Biggie and Pac chilling makes me feel all warm inside, there's simply one reason why the album isn't here: Frank is a perfectionist. Boys Don't Cry is on its way, and when it comes out, the wait will be worth it. In the meantime, just listen to Channel Orange again. That's what I'm going to do. Again and again and again.