By Fares Akhaoui
Nostalgia and Storytelling in music
“I don’t think I shed a tear for a good chunk of my teenage years. It’s surprisingly my favorite part of life so far. Surprising, to me, because the current phase is what I was asking the cosmos for when I was a kid. Maybe that part had its rough stretches too, but in my rearview mirror, it’s getting small enough to convince myself it was all good. And really though… It’s still all good.”
After the release of his first album Channel Orange, Frank Ocean disappeared for 4 years. People were curious to see what Ocean was going to do next and this led to speculation and frustration from fans. In the summer of 2016, Frank Ocean released his second official studio album Blonde and it was immediately met with critical and fan acclaim.
Blonde has a cinematic quality to it. It paints vivid images and creates a feeling of nostalgia that no other album really can. I remember having a conversation with a friend and he had told me that the best way to listen to Blonde was on long car rides. I was in Japan for the summer with a group of friends and was on a long car ride from downtown Tokyo to Hakone, a small town near Mt. Fuji. My friends fell asleep and I decided to put Blonde on. It was on that 2-hour car ride from the crowded streets of Tokyo to the tranquil hot springs of Hakone that I realized how important Blonde was to me.
The album is a meditation on past experiences and the different ways they can shape a person. Cars are a large theme that Ocean uses in his music, he uses them as a symbol of vulnerability instead of a symbol of masculinity like many musicians have in the past. The entire project is like a collection of vi- gnettes and experiences of love and loss that Frank Ocean went through. It reflects on these experiences with an older perspective and a wiser point of view.
He creates a collage of romantic experiences, nostalgia and successes. The final track in particular Futura Free is a stream of consciousness directed to his mother. “Momma, I ain’t making minimum wage Momma. I’m on momma, I’m on. Now I’m making 400,600, 800k momma. To stand on my feet momma. Play these songs, it’s Therapy Momma”. The album ends explaining all his achievements and brings us back to the present, while the whole album takes place in the past.
Blonde is about growth and how important using past experi- ences to grow is. It’s how us as people grow and become better people. We learn from our mistakes and we then can channel that into something better. Wether it be art or any- thing you’re inspired to do.