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Ah, Timmy. How we’ve missed you and your glorious red carpet outfits… may the world know peace.

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Frank Ocean

The final line of Frank Ocean's Blonde asks, "How far is a light year?"

It's the closing line of "Futura Free," the song's slow-burning final track, which is ostensibly an ode to Ocean's own growth as an artist. But as with all things on Blonde, the line grows more complex the closer you listen.

How far is a light year? Light travels a distance of around 9.4×1012 km in a year. "Futura Free" is 9.4 minutes long. That fact is a tribute to Ocean's exacting preciseness, to the mathematical perfection that underlies the artistic triumph that is Blonde.

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Don't play "Hotel California" by the Eagles around me unless you want to hear Frank Ocean's "American Wedding" sung over the original lyrics.

On his 2011 mixtape, nostalgia,ULTRA, Frank Ocean famously sampled, covered, and remade everything from video game clips (notably from Street Fighter, which is referenced ubiquitously in his work) to films, to songs by Coldplay, MGMT, and, yes, the Eagles.

The rock band was not too happy about the uncredited, unapproved sample, but there was nothing they could do. Despite the fame and success of the mixtape, it was released for free, outside of any label affiliations, and Frank Ocean wasn't making money from it.

"Why sue the new guy? I didn't make a dime off that song. I released it for free. If anything I'm paying homage," Frank Ocean said on his Tumblr page in response.

The short-lived controversy is barely a footnote in the album's legacy, though the idea of Don Henley referring to Frank Ocean as "talentless" is laughable now. Today, the drama is mostly forgotten, while the album was an instrumental factor in launching Frank Ocean from unknown producer/songwriter to the icon who has changed the sound of music that he is today.

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Frank Ocean has made two songs and their remixes available exclusively via vinyl, which has some fans praising his innovative approach to music distribution—while other fans (say, those who don't have record players) are feeling slighted.

Ocean premiered the tracks for the first time back in October on his Beats 1 radio show "blended RADIO" and announced the vinyl release months ago, and now the songs have finally arrived. Fortunately, fans who didn't order the singles can sate their thirst through a few clips that several anarchist fans posted online. The songs, entitled "April" and "Cayendo," can be heard in part thanks to a few posts that have managed to gain immortality through digital shares.

Frank Ocean - Cayendo (Sango Remix) www.youtube.com

Ocean was supposed to headline Coachella this April, an event that was postponed to October. Still, his headlining gig had fans thinking that 2020 would see Ocean releasing new work, and even his first LP since 2016's Blonde—an album that topped many best-of-decade lists and continues to resonate as strongly as ever, especially in uncertain times.

For a while, thanks to that album's success, Ocean seemed to reach a kind of godlike status in the music industry. He was reclusive, mysterious, and untouchable, a genius in the truest sense. But his more recent efforts at PR, like the PrEP+ club event he hosted in New York, fizzled a bit as fans criticized the event's lack of inclusivity and sensitivity.

"I'm an artist, it's core to my job to imagine realities that don't necessarily exist," Ocean clarified in a Tumblr post about his intentions behind the event.

Most likely, Ocean's decision to release new songs via vinyl is just another part of his great vision of a better or different world. Unfortunately, visions of a better world are always disconnected from the actuality of this world, and Ocean's vision means we'll all have to wait for the privilege to stream the songs until an indefinite date. Knowing the artist (or rather, knowing the reflection he wants us to know), it'll pay off at some point—we're just operating on his time.

New Releases

Frank Ocean and the Dark, Disgusting Hole of the Internet

The Blonde singer teased new music...or did he?

Figuring out that your favorite artists are working on new music has become a process that involves scouring social media, interpreting vague hints, and answering a series of rhyming riddles from a bridge troll. Even when you believe you've understood the side-eye and miscellaneous sushi emoji on Beyonce's instagram story to mean she has new music on the way, how do you know when to expect it?! How can you know what day to take off work to cry to Adele's new album in which she undoubtedly sings about the emotional journey of motherhood? We have to plan for these things!

Frank Ocean is the most recent super star to torment fans with unclear messages about new work on its way, posting on Tumblr, "March 1st... SOLANA + KL + ANDRE... HERE FOR THE BEANS." While we were surprised that enough people are still on Tumblr to take notice of this cipher, take notice they did, and fans are now in a frenzy trying to figure out what it could possibly mean. Popular opinion holds that the post refers to involvement from SZA, Kendrick Lamar, and André 3000 in a new song or collection of songs. Either that or Ocean is adopting a trio of puppies in March and was merely excited to announce their names. We have no theories about the beans part.

Things were only made more chaotic when the singer posted another mind bender that read, "? (2019) ? (2019) ? (2020)." This is either the combination to Ocean's personal safe, a cry for help because he doesn't know what year it is and at this point is too embarrassed to ask directly, or the years in which he'll release new music. But don't celebrate just yet.

Just as fans began to believe they'd cracked the cryptic message, reports began to emerge that Ocean's Tumblr was hacked, and two posts went up that said, "If this post gets 25,000 likes I will release the Frank Ocean song featuring andre, kendrick and sza (it's a legit song)." The post linked to an Instagram pic on the account of someone purportedly named Patryk Ladniak in Poland. The other read, "'SpirDark'. 2019 Comeback (soon). Nobody is safe. Email me if you're interested in buying unreleased Frank songs." Followed by an email address.

The original posts and the two new hacker posts have all now been taken down, but it remains unclear if the original cryptic messages were a part of the hack or were genuine teasers from Ocean himself. Only one thing remains clear: nothing is coherent and the internet is a hell of vague horrors.

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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