Here’s everything we know so far.
Photography Frank Ocean, The Sounding Off Issue, no. 350, Winter 2017.
Frank Ocean is not a fan of rushing. It was back in 2015 that Frank first teased a double album and a zine, in the form of the famous “got twooo versions” Tumblr post, and over a year later that he finally dropped Blonde and Endless. Now fans are looking to a promise made even further back — in 2012, when Frank tweeted, “5 albums before 30.”
The internet has been quick to remind Frank of this goal over the years, especially since his 30th birthday rolled around in October. On November 28 last year, following a Cyber Monday release of his physical Endless album, Frank hinted that he’s been sitting on a new album. “Well I️ made the album before 30. I️ JUST AINT PUT THAT BITCH OUT! — quotes from an interview I️ haven't given haha,” he cryptically wrote on Tumblr.
Now we’ve been given more evidence of this secret album. Last night Frank posted a photo of his friend Memo wearing a cap that reads, “IF YOU LIKED 2017, YOU’LL LOVE... 2018.” It’s unclear who, other than Taylor Swift, actually liked 2017. But as far as Frank’s music is concerned, it was a very good year, and he appears to be promising that 2018 will be just as abundant.
If Frank does indeed have a new album up sleeve, it will be his fifth — fulfilling the “5 albums before 30” prophecy. Meanwhile most of us can’t even stick to a New Year’s resolution past January. Frank definitely has enough material for a new album, judging by the string of singles he’s dropped recently. Over the past year, he has released “Chanel,” “Biking,” “Provider,” and “Lens,” and featured alongside Lil Uzi Vert on A$AP Rocky’s “RAF.” He also offered his first new live shows following the release of Blonde and Endless.
Fans have some theories about what the rumored new album might look like. On the subreddit r/FrankOcean, there’s a particularly intriguing thread about it being an alternate version to Blonde. The common consensus has been that Blonde and Endless are Frank’s “twooo versions,” or that it’s a reference to Blonde’s own alternate version Blond, which features a different track listing. But could the 2018 album be the antithesis to Blonde? The cover art for Frank’s single “Chanel” shows the singer with dark hair dyed red, the opposite of Blonde’s cover art in which he has blonde hair dyed green. “Chanel” — in which Frank sings “I see both sides” — can be read as the bold, baller flipside to Blond(e)’s introspection and vulnerability. This would also fit with Frank’s interest in feminine and masculine themes, à la the spelling on Blonde and Blond.
Meanwhile there’s Frank’s caption on his photo of Memo, which reads “new 18-99.” T-minus 99 hours seems a bit too tight of a timeline given Frank’s history, though it’s certainly an appealing theory. Other fans are pointing out that Frank prefers to think (and release albums) in seasons rather than years, and since Blonde was a summer drop, we could be waiting well into fall/winter.