A bunch of people have been mouthing off about the follow-up to 2012’s channel ORANGE recently, with James Blake being the latest to sing the elusive album’s praises
There’s seemingly no doubt that Frank Ocean’s new album is going to be amazing. There is doubt about whether it’ll actually end up coming out. By this point it’s become clear that the R&B singer/rapper’s long-mooted follow-up to 2012’s channel ORANGE exists – it’s a real thing, and real people have heard it – but whether it meets the rigorous standards that Ocean clearly expects of himself seems to be the main hurdle to getting it out to the public. Although he’s rumoured to have held listening parties for the album and made guest appearances on other people’s records in the years since channel ORANGE came out, from the sounds of things the album is still being revised even now.
Most recently, James Blake has been sounding off about the music. In a series of interviews to promote his own album The Colour In Anything, the UK soul singer has talked about working on Ocean’s new record. Yesterday, he told Rolling Stone that the album was sounding “better” than channel ORANGE. The fact that someone saying one thing is better than another has become news just shows how eager fans are after years of broken promises and false starts.
Still, these reports that the album is indeed something special seem to be emerging with increasing regularity. So here’s a bunch of people who’ve said good things about it in recent years.
June 25, 2014
Speaking to Buzzfeed, visual artist Nabil – who directed Ocean’s video for “Pyramids” – described the music Ocean was working on in hyperbolic language. “Everyone should be excited about this new album – that shit is fire,” he said. “He’s making a great record. It blows the sophomore-album myth out of the water.”
May 26, 2015
Billboard reported that French pianist Christophe Chassol had given an interview with Gilles Peterson on BBC Radio 1 where he revealed he’d been working with Ocean at Abbey Road. Unlike other collaborators, Chassol stopped short of saying whether the stuff they recorded was any good or not, but he did make it clear that Ocean wasn’t half-arsing things: “He asked me to do some speech harmonization on a song with him... After a while, it was cool and he was like, ‘yeah, but we have to find another way because you already did it’.” In the end, Chassol concluded: “The guy is smart. He’s really smart.”
March 29, 2016
Malay, one of the producers behind channel ORANGE, granted an interview to Pitchfork around the release of Zayn’s Mind of Mine (which he also worked on) and described Frank’s new music. “Frank’s exploring different vibes completely on this album,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s vocally looser but just his mentality; it doesn’t seem as meticulous at certain times.” When asked about what to expect, Malay said that the album should surprise people. “We’ve all been working hard. He’s been working super hard. I feel like he’s working harder than he’s ever worked in his life. I’m excited for everyone to hear it. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, for sure.”
May 6, 2016
Granting an interview to Pitchfork around the release of his new album The Colour In Anything, James Blake said that the new album would be worth the wait. “He is onto something, he really is.”
May 13, 2016
“I am good friends with Frank. His new album is amazing,” Chance the Rapper told Complex while discussing his latest opus Coloring Book. He also talked about Ocean’s elusive nature when it comes to recording. “No-one is really able to find Frank when Frank goes away, literally no-one, not just publications,” he said. “I know he’s away making a masterpiece. I think that Frank is very, very focused on his catalogue. Anything that you hear him on that’s a feature was recorded a long time ago… I don’t think Frank is working on anyone’s stuff except for his own.”
May 25, 2016
Yesterday was a double whammy for Frank Ocean news. Both Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly ran interviews with James Blake where he discussed the music he’d heard – and been working on – with Ocean. In Rolling Stone, the reporter describes how Blake would jokingly brag “about the poor plebeians who have not yet heard Frank Ocean’s new music”. Characteristically, Blake also said that the music was great: “His newer music… It’s better. You grow, you improve, you nail a new message to the board. He’s had time to mature. It’s really cool to watch.”
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Blake said that The Colour In Anything track “Always” features an interpolation of an unreleased Frank Ocean song called “Godspeed” that may or may not feature on his new album. “It was nice of him to let me use it,” Blake said. Talking about Ocean’s new record, he added that “you could probably talk to almost anybody involved in that record and I’m not sure anybody would be able to tell you what’s happening.” However, he maintained that Ocean “is going to make people very happy.”