The world has been waiting for a new record from Frank Ocean for what feels like a lifetime—though in fact it’s only been four years. Here’s everything that’s happened in the world of Ocean’s music since his first album dropped.
Dec. 12, 2012: In an interview with the Guardian, the singer talks about the role of narrative in music. “[Storytelling’s] the more interesting part about making music for me, or making albums and songs and stuff. So much so that I might not make another album. I might just write a novel next.” Is this foreshadowing of the fact that we still have not received an album? Is Frank teasing us all mercilessly? Who knows.
Feb. 19, 2013: Ocean speaks to Zane Lowe on Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show and says that he’s well into the recording process of his follow-up to Channel Orange. “I’m like 10, 11 songs into this next thing. It’s another cohesive thing bordering on a concept album again. At the end of ‘Channel Orange’ there’s ‘Golden Girl’ and I kind of want to extend that feeling into the next record. I’m going to Bora Bora when I get back and setting up a studio there and see what happens.”
April 24, 2013: During an interview with MTV at the TIME 100 gala, Ocean reveals that his new album is inspired by “a lot of Beach Boys and Beatles and whatnot. So we’ll see how it trickles into the music and the final product. I can’t say much other than that.”
July 4, 2013: Ocean is featured prominently on the track “Oceans” from Jay Z’s 12th studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.
July 9, 2013: Ocean debuts a new song, allegedly called “Pray,” during a concert in London.
July 24, 2013: Ocean, in his feelings about his alleged feud with Chris Brown (which apparently started over a parking space) rewrites the lyrics to Migos’ “Versace” on his Tumblr, with the line, “You could stay seated/I’m taking that Grammy” — referencing the 2013 Grammys, where Brown sat while Ocean collected his Grammy.
August 13, 2013: Ocean appears on fellow Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt’s “Sunday.”
August 20, 2013: Ocean is featured on John Mayer’s track, “Wildfire;” the two have collaborated previously. Mayer played guitar on Channel Orange’s “Pyramids” and “White.”
Dec. 13, 2013: Ocean co-wrote and sang on “Superpower” by Beyoncé. He also makes a prominent appearance in its music video.
March 24, 2014: Director and filmmaker Nabil Elderkin, who directed the music videos for “Pyramids,” “Novacane” and “Swim Good,” posts an Instagram of Ocean in the recording studio.
April 9, 2014: Ocean uses Tumblr, his preferred social media outlet, to announce that his album is nearly completed.
“I’M OPENING UP FOR OUTKAST THIS SUMMER AT PEMBERTON SO I MIGHT SKIP ON COACHELLA TO STAY IN THE GROOVE AND FINISH THIS B–H… I FEEL LIKE THEY’RE FINNA WILD OUT THO. F–K IT.. BRING THE HELICOPTER OUT.”
Sept. 15, 2014: Ocean signs with new management, Three Six Zero Group, who manage Calvin Harris and Kate Nash.
Nov. 28, 2014: Ocean releases a teaser via his Tumblr (because, of course) to what many assume is new music off his new album; the clip is titled, “Memrise.”
Dec. 28, 2014: Rapper Lil’ B posts a photo of himself sitting with Ocean, along with a caption that said they were in the studio together.
April 6, 2015: Ocean posts a photo of himself on his Tumblr with two piles of magazines, one of which is titled, Boys Don’t Cry. The caption for the photo reads: “I got two versions. I got twoooo versions,” and includes the hashtags #ISSUE1 #ALBUM3 #JULY2015 #BOYSDONTCRY. Billboard confirms with Ocean’s rep that a new album and zine would arrive in July.
July 2015: There is no album. There is no zine. We have nothing.
Aug. 1, 2015: Ocean’s little brother, Ryan Breaux, pulls the ultimate troll move with no regard for our feelings by posting an Instagram teaser purportedly for the album, with a caption that urged viewers to click the link in his bio. Hapless fans however, got Rickrolled once they clicked on the link.
Aug. 22, 2015: Ocean pulls out of FYF Festival in Los Angeles. His publicist releases the following statement: “We’re really sorry that due to a scheduling conflict beyond our control, Frank Ocean is not going to be able to appear at FYF Festival as planned. Frank had really been looking forward to the performance and to seeing all of his fans, so it is with great regret that we announce this cancellation.”
Feb. 11, 2016: After six long months without any Ocean news or sightings, he reappears to support Kanye West at the premiere of The Life of Pablo (and the Yeezy Season 3 fashion presentation) at Madison Square Garden. His vocals are featured on the song, “Wolves.”
Feb. 29, 2016: A Frank Ocean song leak surfaces online; however, all evidence has been scrubbed from the Internet. The caption accompanying the initial upload, however, says that the music was played at a “very very secret frank ocean listening party.”
April 1, 2016: Producer and songwriter Malay, who worked on the majority of the tracks on Ocean’s Channel Orange, tells Pitchfork that Ocean is “exploring different vibes completely on this album.” Which confirms that there is, in fact, an album. BLESS. PRAISE. BLESS. He then waxed eloquent about the singer’s process. “I wouldn’t say it’s vocally looser but just his mentality; it doesn’t seem as meticulous at certain times…I always tell people: When he’s ready, the world is gonna get it. It could be tomorrow…well, not tomorrow but maybe a month [laughs]. 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: In the same vein as Malay, James Blake reveals to Pitchfork that not only is his new album influenced by Ocean, but that they’ve become “very good friends” and that the new album will be worth the wait. Says Blake of Ocean, “He is onto something, he really is.”
May 13, 2016: In case the James Blake snippet wasn’t enough to give you FOMO about listening to Ocean’s new album, Chance the Rapper revealed in an interview with Complex that Ocean’s new album is a “masterpiece.” He also confirms what we all know to be true: “No one really is able to find Frank when Frank goes away,” he said. “Like, literally no one, not just publications.” Word.
May 25, 2016: Continuing his bragging spree about having the kind of access to Frank Ocean that we can only dream of, James Blake tells Entertainment Weekly that his track “Always” samples an unreleased Frank Ocean song titled, “Godspeed.” He also tells them that the new album “is going to make people very happy.” Which is something we could all say for ourselves if there was an album to listen to.
In another interview with Rolling Stone, Blake says that Ocean’s new album will be “better,” noting that “He’s had time to mature. It’s really cool to watch.”
June 21, 2016: Ocean posts an emotional and touching reflection on the Orlando shootings on his Tumblr page, noting that “I daydream on the idea that maybe all this barbarism and all these transgressions against ourselves is an equal and opposite reaction to something better happening in this world, some great swelling wave of openness and wakefulness out here.”
July 2, 2016: Frank Ocean, fully aware that we are desperate and thirsty for any hint of when a new album will be coming, post a single photo to his website, an image of a library due date cart. There are a plethora of clues hidden within this image: the due date stamps start with July 2015 (when his album was rumored to be initially released) and ultimately end with July 2016, which gives me infinite hope that we might be receiving a Frank Ocean album this month. The library card also reads, “Boys Don’t Cry,” which is the rumored title of Frank’s album on the bottom (and also the name of his official website) and the url slug reads, “late,” which shows that Frankie’s not completely aloof from our feelings.
July 6, 2016: Frank Ocean further confirms that he is alive and active with the release of a Calvin Klein video campaign that features the singer and what one might assume is a sampling of some new music, leading fans to believe that is Ocean has enough time to appear in a CK ad, he has time to finish the album.
July 9, 2016: A Reddit user claims to have found information in the source code on the Calvin Klein website that Frank Ocean has allegedly penned a novel while also working on his zine and his still nonexistent new album.
July 11, 2016: Yet another artist teases us with morsels of information that Frank’s new album is coming soon. Theophilus London hopped on Twitter to let us know that “a lil birdy” said that we’re “all gonna eat soon” and that “we all need these vibes from Franky!” Truer words were never tweeted.
July 31, 2016: There is no album in sight. Has Frank Ocean been trolling us all along once again? Will we ever listen to the album presumed to be Boys Don’t Cry?!
Aug. 1, 2016: At 3:30 am EST, Apple Music begins streaming mysterious black and white footage on Ocean’s website. The presumed live stream is later revealed to be a video on loop. The Internet, predictably, explodes.
Later that day, The New York Times reports that the new album will be released on Friday, Aug. 4, through an exclusive deal with Apple Music, according to a source with “knowledge of the release plans.” The release will reportedly also include a major video and the printed publication teased earlier will be distributed at Apple stores.