Whooo boy, I have had some seriously bad luck on my birthday the past couple of years. I generally think birthdays are a waste of time, thus my favorite thing to do is listen to music, be lazy, and maybe grab dinner with a very close friend. The last time I was able to do that was in 2012 when I was living in New York City for the hottest summer in the history of the universe.
A week after releasing an extremely vulnerable Tumblr post about his sexuality on the Fourth of July, Frank dropped one of the best albums of the past decade and my favorite albums of 2012. I remember listening to it all the way through twice, back to back in my non-air-conditioned room on the first floor of a Gramercy apartment that was directly above a boiler room. For reasons both philosophical and sensory, this was an extremely overwhelming experience.
This was three years ago, before marriage equality was real, before transexual issues were even included in the same dialogue—and a full year before Macklemore was praised for his vanilla (but still culturally significant) “Same Love”. This was a person who got naked in front of us and left us speechless with his honesty and shattered us with his music.
Listening to the album I instantly knew “Bad Religion” was the creative extension of that coming out note he posted to Tumblr. Sure, the direct address to loving another man was the through-line, but there was far more to it than that. The most compelling part of this song is the danger of the “one man cult,” deifying someone to a level that is destructive. This is probably the reason Frank has scrubbed many of his social media accounts and has been so quiet for the past three years, and definitely the reason fans are clamoring for a brand new album this month (one was promised for July a few months ago).
All of this is to say, that we would all love a new Frank Ocean album. Of course we would. But it’s important to remember that he isn’t ours, he isn’t a birthday present, and that the human is more sacred than the artist.
Will be listening to this one for a while, and let Frank be my shrink for the hour.