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|24 Sep|6 mins

The Enigmatic Genius of Frank Ocean

Ocean is reportedly shopping his new album 🙏
Frank Ocean attends the 2021 MET GALAFrank Ocean attends the 2021 MET GALA

Frank Ocean’s ephemeral pop-culture presence continues to confound Oceanites the world over, the 33-year-old Long Beach rapper recently pulling-up to the Met Gala with a child seemingly conceived from outer space. 

Indeed backed by his ethereal pipes, Ocean’s enigmatic presence continues to shape the zeitgeist today, his nostalgia-soaked verses supplementing his pursuits in art and fashion (Ocean debuted his maiden luxury label Homer in August, 2021).  

From his gauzy DIY mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra to his ‘Stairway to Heaven’ with Tom Sachs, we take a closer look at the eccentric genius that is Frank Ocean. 

Frank Ocean Album Cover for Nostalgia, Ultra 2011Frank Ocean Album Cover for Nostalgia, Ultra 2011

Nostalgia, Ultra (2011)
On February 16, 2011, Frank Ocean surprised-dropped Nostalgia, Ultra, a pulsing, 14-track debut mixtape headlines by tracks like ‘Swim Good’ and ‘Novacane’.

An Interminable rabbit hole of samples (MGMT; Coldplay; Radiohead; The Eagles), Nostalgia, Ultra significantly digressed from the R&B conventions of the early 2000s, the mixtape quickly gaining traction from the likes of Kanye West (who then asked Ocean to appear on Watch the Throne)

In typical Frank fashion, the mixtape was self-released without any promotion, and inexplicably uploaded to i-Tunes under ‘bluegrass’ and ‘death metal’. 

We love you, Frank. 

Album Cover for Frank Ocean's The Stairway to Heaven, EndlessAlbum Cover for Frank Ocean's The Stairway to Heaven, Endless

The Stairway to Heaven, Endless (2016)
What on earth was going on during Frank Ocean’s Endless live-stream? Conceived in collaboration with out-of-space American artist Tom Sachs, Ocean’s livestream broadcast a so-called ‘Stairway to Heaven’ being constructed in a vast white warehouse space. 

A masochistic slow-burn in an industry consumed with the idea of fame, the Endless visual album turned out to be deftly calculated. The 19-day livestream fulfilled Ocean’s contract obligations with Def Jam Recordings, allowing him to finally release Blonde under his own label, Boys Don’t Cry. 

Album Cover for Frank Ocean's Boys Don’t Cry 2016Album Cover for Frank Ocean's Boys Don’t Cry 2016

Boys Don’t Cry - Unless They Missed out on This Zine! (2016) 
Revealed in 2016, Frank Ocean’s glossy, 360-page behemoth is a beautiful manifestation of Ocean’s nostalgia-soaked mind. 

Featuring contributions from the likes of Ocean, Kanye West, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tyler, The Creator and A$AP Rocky (Odd Future, reunite!)  the ambitious project was a gauzy reflection on the artist and those closest to him.

A Grail for any bookshelf, we still routinely revisit pieces from this tome, some of our favourites including Kanye West’s bizarre ode to McDonald’s and Tyler’s tribute to cars, ‘Tricolour’. Keen to track down a copy? Unopened copies of Boys Don’t Cry sell for eye-watering prices, so if you find a decent second-hand copy for a reasonable price, it’s the perfect lockdown companion. 

Frank Ocean arrives for the 2019 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York wearing PradaFrank Ocean arrives for the 2019 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York wearing Prada

Of Course, Frank Now Has a Label, Homer (2021) 
Frank Ocean returned from yet another hiatus from the spotlight to launch his luxury label, Homer, the high-end brand focusing on jewellery and accessories for their first collection. Complete with 18-karat gold, recycled sterling silver, enamel jewelry and American lab-grown diamonds, the collection was also accompanied by several printed silk scarves designed in New York and manufactured in Italy. 

Steeped in a desire to channel ‘childhood obsessions’, it didn’t take long for Ocean’s Homer to create a buzz. Homer have already linked up with Prada for their maiden collaboration, involving an Italian-made anorak, backpack, and belt bag. 

It’s no surprise Ocean decided to join forces with the Milanese label, the artist frequently appearing in Prada gear - most recently at the MET Gala. 

Frank Ocean attends the 2021 MET GALAFrank Ocean attends the 2021 MET GALA

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E.T at the Met Gala (2021)
If someone was to give birth to a cute, exterrestrial, green-skinned baby, it would of course be Frank Ocean.The man with the interstellar chords pulled up to the Met Gala with animatronic infant ‘Cody’ on September 13, of course outfitting the child with Homer. 

Taking cues from the Met Gala theme (‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’), Frank Ocean told reporters the outfit and battery-operated baby were inspired by ‘movie magic’ and ‘America’.

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