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.

CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

MUSIC

Bob Dylan’s First New Song in 8 Years Is About JFK and the Death of America

It's an exploration of JFK's assassination and its aftermath.

Bob Dylan has released his first new song in eight years.

"Murder Most Foul" is a 17-minute tapestry of Americana history that is, as most things from Bob Dylan are, folkloric and reverent. Here, the object of Dylan's horror and worship is John F. Kennedy's death, which ties together countless references to everything from A Nightmare on Elm Street to "Moonlight Sonata" to Stevie Nicks and Ray Charles.

As violins and drums mutter in the background, Dylan laments America's complex, largely mythological, often wicked history. His focal point is the 1960s and the fallout from JFK's 1963 murder. He mentions Woodstock, the Age of Aquarius, and Altamont, the doomed California music festival that was invaded by Hell's Angels and ended in bloody disaster.

Despite its focus on the mid-20th century, the song veers throughout time and across mediums. The title itself is a reference to Shakspeare's Hamlet, and he specifically shouts out Lady Macbeth in one verse, then pivots to messages of sympathy for a woman whom we can safely assume is Jackie O.

Bob Dylan Revisits His Long, Twisted Relationship with John F. Kennedy

Dylan's complex obsession with John F. Kennedy's death goes far back in time. He apparently called JFK "fake" and a "pretender" and did not vote in the 1960 election. But in 1960, he told Rolling Stone, "I don't know what people's errors are: nobody's perfect, for sure. But I thought Kennedy, both Kennedys – I just liked t hem. And I liked Martin Luther King. I thought those people who were blessed and touched, you know? The fact that they all went out with bullets doesn't change nothin'. Because the good they do gets planted. And those seeds live on longer than that."

Later, when asked about the assassination, he said, "Of course, I felt as rotten as everyone else. But if I was more sensitive about it than anyone else, I would have written a song about it, wouldn't I? The whole thing about my reactions to the assassination is overplayed."

Bob Dylan Historical Collection Everett/Shutterstock

He pivoted yet again thanks to an excess of alcohol. When accepting the Tom Paine Award from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee in 1963, allegedly "a drunken, rambling Dylan questioned the role of the committee, insulted its members as old and balding, and claimed to see something of himself (and of every man) in assassin Lee Harvey Oswald."

"I'll stand up and to get uncompromisable about it, which I have to be to be honest, I just got to be, as I got to admit that the man who shot President Kennedy, Lee Oswald, I don't know exactly where—what he thought he was doing, but I got to admit honestly that I too—I saw some of myself in him," said Dylan. "I don't think it would have gone—I don't think it could go that far. But I got to stand up and say I saw things that he felt, in me—not to go that far and shoot."

Now he's gone back on his word and returned to JFK nearly half a century later. "Murder Most Foul" is apocalyptic and brooding, and it can't be an accident that Dylan released it in the midst of a pandemic. "What's new pussycat? What'd I say? / I said the soul of a nation been torn away / And it's beginning to go into a slow decay / And that it's 36 hours past Judgment Day," he drones, words that—like the best Dylan lyrics—seem to apply to anything and everything at once.

"Murder Most Foul" Questions America's Motives and JFK's Legacy

JFK's rise represented a profound moment of all-American optimism, but to many radicals he was just another figurehead. Dylan's confusion and rage at the government feels relevant today, especially because it was released the day after a controversial and resolutely non-populist stimulus package—which allots $500 billion to big businesses while giving a small one-time check to working people and nothing at all to hospitals—was announced.

Sometimes, in these pandemic days, it does feel like we've passed through some kind of long-feared cataclysm, and now we're in the free-fall. John F. Kennedy's assassination, like 9/11 and like COVID-19, was a moment that marked an entire cultural conscience and revealed the vulnerability of American ideals and the insubstantiality of all our great institutions, for better or worse.

But we still have music; that's one thing that's not going away. In the end, "Murder Most Foul" is just as much of an ode to music as it is an ode to the ephemera of the past.

Bob Dylan - Murder Most Foul (Official Audio) www.youtube.com