By Leah Devorak | layout editor
It all started on August 21 when Kanye West put that Frank Ocean album on repeat.
Then he returned to Twitter two days later to further expound his feelings for “Blonde,” rapper Ocean’s newest album that dropped August 20.
In the tweets, West called every radio station in the nation to “come together” by playing their favorite Ocean song “at least ten times a day,” claiming that doing so would “make the world a better place.”
As with most things Kanye West, these tweets went viral.
I actually found out about them while listening to the radio. The two hosts of the show were mocking his comments, pointing out that radio stations have playlists and can’t just randomly pick a song, even if West demands they do.
They also questioned his extreme conclusion that “Blonde” could change the world – as did I. But while the show hosts didn’t really look much further into it, dismissing the comment as typical, dramatic Kanye, I actually wondered if the album could, in fact, do what he said. I mean, the guy is a little ridiculous at times, but he’s still a music auter. Of all people, shouldn’t he at least know if an album will be legendary?
So I decided to give it a whirl. Here’s the catch, though: I never listen to rap and thus know absolutely nothing about the genre. So what to actually expect from “Blonde,” I had no clue.
Well, one scan through the album, and I was already intrigued – mostly because it had 17 songs but also because the song times varied between one and 10 minutes. Seeing the huge differences, I instantly wanted to press play.
The first song, “Nikes,” was soft and slow, a nice intro to what would end up being a very whimsical, vibe-y album. And while it was slightly inappropriate at times, I honestly expected nothing less from it based on the few other rap songs I’ve heard in my life.
Ocean’s album, however, is definitely not fully rap — you know, the kind where the bass is bumpin’ and the rapper’s going so fast you can barely comprehend. The whole thing turned out to be a fantastic mix of slow guitar, soulful singing and stylistic auto tune, with the actual rapping being very minimal. Such was appropriate, though, for Ocean considers himself to be a singer and songwriter as well as a rapper.
Nonetheless, from the lead vocals to the mesmerizing harmonies, every single song was absolutely beautiful. The amount of time, passion, love and effort that went into making them could truly be felt every second, something quite rare for most music nowadays.
My favorite song on “Blonde” was definitely “Solo (Reprise).” (Yes, Ocean’s album is long enough to have its own reprise.) This remake of the fourth song on the album is fast and intense, featuring an amazing juxtaposition between slow, soft piano and quick, raw rap. It served as a refreshing reprieve from the rest of the smooth, mellow album, making it quite memorable.
Another of my favorites was “Pretty Sweet,” featuring somewhat of a faster, more pop-like beat than the rest of the album. This paired nicely with “Solo (Reprise)” in order to fend off the lull that I previously found myself serenaded into.
Don’t get me wrong, though: It was a good lull, similar to the one kids feel as their mothers sing them to sleep – although Ocean’s album definitely is not intended for children. It simply relaxes people in a way not many things can do, quite an accomplishment for the genre.
“Blonde” did have its strange points, though, such as the auto-tuned screaming that closed out “Ivy.” “Facebook Story” also felt bizarre, probably thanks to it just being a French dude talking about his breakup.
And to be entirely honest, even though every song was superbly composed, having 17 of them on the album was a bit much. It seemed like all but four sounded exactly the same, so after the first 45 minutes, I got bored.
But overall, “Blonde” is solid. Will it change the world if every radio station plays a song from it 10 times a day? No. Sorry, Kanye. But will it probably win a couple of awards this upcoming year? Yeah, I can see that, especially since it’s already number one on Billboard.
“Blonde” can be purchased for $9.99 on iTunes.