this podcast is unpacking frank ocean's 'blonde' for an entire season
Fun fact #1: Frank Ocean's birth name is Christopher Breaux.
The arrival of the amorphous visual album Endless was Frank Ocean’s way of signaling to the world he’s not your average artist. Here was a singer uninterested in the artifice built around pop stardom, abstaining from the preordained, ceaseless cycle of album releases. The result of this slow-cooked approach was the seminal album, Blonde. That years of work went into Blonde was readily apparent, the album infused with complex themes like newfound stardom, the responsibilities of being black and influential, and queerness. Two years later and we’re still digesting it. Which is why a music podcast channel is dedicating 16 hour-long episodes to Blonde.
The podcast series Dissect dedicates each new season to an important work of hip hop. The first focused on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the second Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. The show is spearheaded by music journalist Cole Cuchna, who started the podcast by himself at home. The first Frank-centric episode sees Cole explore the singer’s biographical life. We see what led up to the unique release of the attention-grabbing mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra: Hurricane Katrina prompting Frank’s move to LA, his tumultuous relationship with his label Def Jam, his obsession with film leading to the inclusion of an Eyes Wide Shut monologue in a song.
We also revisit Frank’s days as a songwriter for other artists, hearing a snippet of his work on Brandy’s 2008 song “First Love.” There are also interesting tidbits like Frank forming the first name of his pseudonym from Frank Sinatra and the last name from the film Ocean’s Eleven. Some jobs Frank worked before making it big included being a claim processor at All State and a sandwich artist at Subway (which we’re sure is not the kind of artist young Frank envisioned himself being).
The next six episodes of Dissect season three will be dedicated to Frank’s first proper album Channel Orange, highlighting the germination of his artistry, and the remaining ten episodes will explore Blonde. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify.