In 2012, at a time when many felt as if R&B had fallen off, Frank Ocean was our savior. Channel Orange felt like love on a warm, summer day. Not only was the music on point, but it was different and inclusive.
Revealing his first love with a man and lyrics such as “You’re running through my mind, boy” captured the music world’s attention. I get it. I will give it credit for being a good, creative and artistically well-put-together studio-debut album. But I won’t give it credit for being good enough to become a four-year member of the “Where is Frank Ocean?” movement.
Frank Ocean did not disappear. He continues to make music while leading people to believe he is actually going to drop another album of his own, and soon. He’s been doing this since 2013.
“I’m, like, 10, 11 songs into this next thing. It’s another cohesive thing bordering on a concept album again,” he shared on Zane Lowe’s BBC radio show.
Oh, and then there was 2014. “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,” Ocean exclaimed on his Tumblr in reference to his album.
Then 2015 rolled around. Fans almost made it to the Promised Land, getting a step closer with what they thought was an album title, Boys Don’t Cry, and a release date slated for July. Well, July came with no Boys Don’t Cry in sight. How surprising.
And now here we are in 2016. Malay, the man who produced much of Ocean’s first and only album, recently did an interview with Pitchfork alluding to the mystery album dropping: “Maybe.”
“It could be tomorrow … well, not tomorrow, but maybe a month,” Malay said. “We’ve all been working hard. He’s been working super hard. I’m excited for everyone to hear it. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, for sure.”
It is four years later and I still give zero f—ks about his next album.
I’m just going to go ahead and say what no one really wants to admit: Frank Ocean is overrated. His first and only album was not a classic. Channel Orange was about love, just as most R&B albums are. Take his most popular song, “Thinkin Bout You,” for example. This fan favorite is really no different from Brian McKnight’s “Anytime” or Ne-Yo’s “Do You” (both of which I happen to like about 15 times more than “Thinkin Bout You”). His version isn’t any more compelling than the other songs asking the same exact question: Have you thought about me since we broke up?
Vocally, well … Ocean has a good New York City subway voice. It’s the kind of voice I might not get annoyed to hear on a crowded C train headed back uptown after a long-ass day at work. I will even go so far as to say that I might give him a dollar and tell him he’s kind of dope before I get off. What I’m trying to say is that he has a voice that would catch my attention and that maybe I’d enjoy at times. But his voice isn’t polished or trained enough to make a big deal over.
On top of that, he’s a mediocre performer. His 2013 Grammy performance was underwhelming. As he stood in one place singing off-key, I wondered what he would sound like if he were singing a song with a faster tempo and bothered to move any part of his body other than his fingers that glided up and down the keyboard. I wasn’t expecting him to make unnecessary and awkward dance moves that seem to work well for Drake. But something more than a bright-yellow suit and indistinguishable vocals would’ve been nice.
I’m just not pressed for Ocean’s music any more than he’s pressed to share it. He’s not that once-in-a-lifetime kind of artist for me to want an album more than he wants to record and release it. So if he were ever to ask the question, “Do you think about me still?” My answer would be, “I think about you, Frank Ocean, pretty much, never.” And while everyone continues to wait on the edge of their seats for that album-release day to come, I’ll remain completely unfazed by his absence in my life.
Ocean is an artist you want to like because it’s cool to like him. Beyoncé and Kanye West like him, so basically that means we all have to. But until he actually changes his name to Frank “Beyoncé” Ocean or Frank “Kanye” Ocean, I’ll be sitting here thinking about Popeyes chicken (because I often think about their chicken, and their biscuits, too), Bey’s Lemonade (an album that actually has been released and made available for purchase) and a dozen other things than his album that might, maybe, probably will never happen.
Kiera A. Manison is a digital-content editor living in New York City. She likes her hair big, often listens to Nas’ “Hate Me Now,” and talks race and pop culture at her website when she feels like it.