Frank Ocean May Not Release Another Full Album, But That Thankfully Doesn't Mean No New Music
The days of anxiously waiting for a new album from Frank Ocean may feel like a distant memory after the artist released both Endless and Blonde a couple days apart in August 2016. Yet, the wait for another album in the future may be (ahem) endless since Ocean told The New York Times in a rare interview that he doesn't have to release music in album format anymore because he doesn't have a record deal. While this is not a very welcome statement, take a deep breath since it doesn't mean Ocean won't release new music ever again (you can exhale now) — it just may mean that the new music won't be part of a larger album.
Ocean has already changed what's expected of artists in the music world when it comes to sound (thanks to his inventive style that mixes genres and themes) and how music is released (as the mystery surrounding Blonde proved). Beyond what he presents to fans, he has also changed the business aspects of music since, as The New York Times noted, Ocean worked to get out of his contract with the music label Def Jam early after the success of Channel Orange. Def Jam distributed the visual album Endless, but Blonde was released independently by Ocean. So is it really surprising that Ocean says his future music may not be released in album form? "Because I'm not in a record deal, I don't have to operate in an album format," he said to The New York Times. "I can operate in half-a-song format."
While full-length albums have been a staple of recording artists, maybe Ocean has a point. With so many ways to access digital singles, albums don't feel like a necessity anymore. And while music purists have a point about listening to an album from start to finish, there's no reason to doubt that even if Ocean only released a half a song that it wouldn't be artful. Plus, based on what Ocean has already put fans through, half of a song doesn't sound half bad.
The real upsetting aspect of Ocean's interview is less about albums and more about how he could eventually move on from the music scene altogether. "I believe that I'm one of the best in the world at what I do, and that's all I've ever wanted to be," he told The New York Times. "It's more interesting for me to figure out how to be superior in areas where I'm naïve, where I'm a novice."
Still, for now, it seems like Ocean will stick with music — even if he won't release it in a traditional way. And based on how dramatic the wait for Blonde was, maybe this whole not working in an album format will be a good thing. Just imagine a world with no albums, but unexpected song releases from Ocean. It could take out the whole stress of waiting and might even lead to music being released by Ocean more frequently — and I know that's something fans can learn to live with.