An Introspection, 5 Years of “Blonde”
Five years ago today, Frank Ocean released Blonde into the world.
Gracing the aisles on a quiet Saturday, only hours after the release of Ocean's visual album Endless, the album shocked the best of the fans. It was perhaps intentional from Ocean's part, who wanted to carve out a place for such a contradictory album – an album that was sordid yet joyful, passionate yet forlorn.
Taking a sharp detour from his previous album, Blonde was not set in any sort of order. The stories did not form any theme, other than Ocean's own soul-wrenching thoughts regarding his experiences. That in turn, gave the audience a chance to give up on finding real meanings to Ocean's words, as profound as they were.
Blonde to many is a form of escape, a blank piece of paper that can relay own definitions, own emotions to the words, to the sparse music. However, Blonde to me is a form of memory suspended in a void, perhaps due to its maker's own preoccupation with nostalgia and memories.
I remember listening to "Nikes" on a cold night with my broken earphone, its bellowing drops in music rooting me in the spot. I remember listening to Ocean crooning with a conviction on his lips, "I'll mean somethin' too," and feeling too overwhelmed to sleep that night. I heard the outro of "Solo" right after losing a friend to clashing egos. A moment is all it took to hear a quiet "By myself" spoken in a cacophony of solos. It was that moment that hit home – I too was finally solo, after years of being in a duo.
That is what I meant by comparing Blonde to a suspended memory. It is as if the memories of joy, heartbreak, and loneliness were forever suspended within Ocean's words.
It would not be incorrect to assume that Blonde was meant to inspire such emotions. After all, it contains the consequences of Ocean's own life and all the vices he brought into it. However, what was publicised as a highly personal work catapulted into a universal tale of love and grief, loneliness and ecstasy, melancholy and survival. It is art in its basest form, bereft of any spectacular lyrical or sonical device, yet sublime for it nonetheless.
As it stands, it's been five years since Blonde was released. I, not unlike the fellow connoisseurs of this album, have also grown up alongside it. That is five years of growing up, falling in and out of love, forming meaningful connections, suffering irreparable losses. Yet, every time I listen to "Solo", a twinge still goes through my now battered heart, as if it was comprehending the loss of friendship all over again.
That is what makes Blonde so special. Five years after this masterpiece, it seems that the album is still suspended in our hearts.
Raya Mehnaz likes to critically analyse anything regarding pop culture, and when she's not doing that, she likes to live life dangerously — one House MD episode at a time. Send help at fb.com/raya.mehnaz