Mystery is the catalyst of intrigue, and when it comes to Frank Ocean, nothing is off the table.
Nearly six years since his set at FYF Fest in Los Angeles, the generational singer-songwriter made his long-awaited return in the desert last Sunday night (April 16) — and it didn’t go as smooth as planned.
Ocean opted out of the festival’s second weekend (April 23) due to an ankle fracture and sprain in his left leg, per TMZ. You can see him limping in the clip below and has since been replaced by blink-182.
“After suffering an injury to his leg on festival grounds in the week leading up to weekend 1, Frank Ocean was unable to perform the intended show but was still intent on performing, and in 72 hours, the show was reworked out of necessity.”Frank’s reps via TMZ
Fans initially freaked when YouTube announced that Ocean’s set would not be live-streamed hours before the show. Most were able to catch a glimpse through various Instagram Live snippets. TMZ reported that Ocean’s hour-long delay was due to the now-confirmed bum ankle, suffering a biking accident days before the show, per a source close to the situation.
The reclusive star surprisingly offered a statement on the situation. “It was chaotic. There is some beauty in chaos,” he told TMZ. “It isn’t what I intended to show but I did enjoy being out there and I’ll see you soon.”
Rolling Stone and TMZ corroborated on how Frank’s set was supposed to feature ice skaters — which were the figures walking back-and-forth on stage — and an ice rink. He spent most of his set sitting down at the key of the makeshift studio set-up, donning slippers to seemingly soften the blow. A few of the skaters — who host the Empty Netters podcast — have spoken out on how “calm, cool and collected” Frank was in the heat of the moment, as well as some insight as to how the show was originally planned.
As far as his actual performance, it was a chaotic triumph. Although he arrived an hour late, it was a bewildering yet exciting experience to witness — er watch on IG Live. He seemed jovial for his first headlining show in six years, sporting a hooded blue jacket, black durag and gold grills.
Among the many other headlines, the Blonde artist confirmed an album is, in fact, in existence. Dedicating his set to his late brother Ryan Breaux, who tragically passed in a car accident in 2020, the elusive Ocean hinted at his fourth studio album when addressing the crowd for the first time, following club-style remixes, courtesy of DJ Crystal Mess, of some of his greatest hits: “White Ferrari,” “Chanel,” “Lost,” “Solo” and others.
“I wanna talk about why we’re here… because it’s not about the new album… not that there’s NOT a new album,” he said. “My brother and I, we came to this festival a lot… I know he would’ve been so excited to be here with all of us.” Other tracks like “Nikes,” “Godspeed,” “At Your Best” and the generational “Nights” all were played in its original form, as an intimate screen-clad studio stage, a whirly rave intermission, his green robot baby Cody and Frank’s “Inner Child” Josiah made the set feel exclusive and of-the-moment. “Godspeed” was truly bone-chilling to watch.
The Channel Orange talent previously alluded to a new record in recent years, reportedly shopping it since mid-summer 2021. According to a report from Hits Daily Double, it states that Ocean’s attorneys were “taking meetings and playing the music for execs as he plans his return.” He also plans to direct an upcoming A24 film, which was seemingly teased during Josiah’s lip-sync performance.
Stemming from the bouncy, New Orleans-esque interpolations heard througout his set, the 35-year-old artist was rehearsing new sounds in Coachella Valley early last week, per a Frank Ocean Redditor. “It sounded like the most immaculate techno club music,” the user wrote, as Ocean detailed his electro influences in a 2019 interview with W Magazine.
“I’ve been interested in club, and the many different iterations of nightlife for music and songs. And so the things I look at now have a lot to do with those scenes: Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic… I grew up in New Orleans, so the closest to the nightlife scene for me was New Orleans bounce, and that was a lot of trends. But it’s so much a part of my childhood and my youth that I don’t really go back to it so much as a touch point. I’m really looking forward. It’s kind of a mix for me.”Frank Ocean to W Magazine, 2019
On top of this Redditor’s Coachella drive-by, BMW teased Ocean’s return with clips of nostalgia, ULTRA’s iconic orange BMW E30 M3. “The past meets the future this week. As far as what comes next, we’ll let you guys prophesy,” they posted on Instagram, along with a glamorous shot of the E30 next to the Coachella sign. “The past” could allude to Frank’s debut mixtape, meeting a probable DSP release sometime surrounding his headlining sets April 16 and April 23, with the latter now struck stemming from his injury.
The singer’s last studio album Blonde dropped in 2016 and was immediately met with widespread praise — almost instantaneously hailed as a masterpiece. Ocean notoriously exited his deal with Def Jam with the release of his visual album Endless, only to drop Blonde 24 hours later.
He hasn’t gone completely dark since his double-album run in ‘16, though. Sharing “Chanel,” “Biking,” “Lens,” “Provider,” “Moon River” (2017-18) as well as “DHL,” “In My Room,” “Dear April” and “Cayendo” in 2019-20, Ocean looked to be gearing up for an eventual album release off these tracks. However, when his 18-year-old brother Ryan passed away in 2020, any previous plans for a project were seemingly put on hold.
With all this time in between full-length LPs — and a new venture into luxury jewelry with his brand HOMER — we’re hoping Frank makes a full recovery. We know his heart was in the right place.
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