Dear Frank Ocean,
Hey, buddy! Sorry we haven’t been in touch for a minute, but our 2016 has been wild. Everyone running for president is psychotic. So many of our heroes have died this year — Bowie, Phife, Garry Shandling, and now Prince, for fuck’s sake — it’s starting to feel like God is soft-launching the Rapture. Plus, we found out this week that UberEATS delivers doughnuts. We’ve been yo-yoing in and out of a staff-wide sugar coma ever since. It’s part of our grieving process; don’t judge.
Plus, we’re running a music site over here, and apart from all the world-altering legends dropping like flies, 2016 has already been a crazy-amazing (and crazy-making) year for music. It’s like the Illuminati got real turnt at their annual office Christmas party/blood-moon ritual-sacrifice gathering and decided it would be funny to make every major artist on earth put out their much-anticipated new albums between January and May just to mess with music journalists.
Anti, Lemonade, Untitled Unmastered, Views — we’ve basically been deluged with a year’s worth of incredible music within less than six months. Just keeping up with each new version of The Life of Pablo is a full-time job in itself. We’re hearing chatter about Justin Timberlake maybe dropping something that isn’t the soundtrack for a troll movie soon. Even Jay Z’s talking about taking a break from suing the crooked Norwegians who sold him Tidal to spit a few bars in response to his wife’s song cycle about what it’s like when Jay Z cheats on you. Views From the Guest Bedroom Couch, anyone?
Which brings us to the reason we’re writing this. We’ve heard you’re almost done with Boys Don’t Cry, the sophomore album on which you’ve been hard at work for what feels like an eternity. But we’d like you to consider holding it until 2017.
Yeah, we know it’s a crazy idea. Twitter will come for us just for suggesting it. We’re gonna have to move the MTV offices to an off-the-grid farm upstate and run our laptops off bike power the minute this post goes live. But look: Even if the streets are begging for fresh Ocean, and we know they are, do you really want to drop your sure-to-be magnum opus in the genius-glutted artistic traffic jam that is Q2 2016? Do you really want to show up late to this party? Or do you want to wait until 2017, when everyone mentioned above will either be touring, chilling, or working things out in couples therapy, and you can show up and be the party?
I mean, c’mon, Frank, we’re talking about the follow-up to Channel Orange, easily one of the best albums of the decade. You’ve been working on the new one for four years. You may even feel like it’s close to done. But is it really done, Frank? Is it as good as it could be? Is it as good as the first six songs on Lemonade? Because real talk — even the last seven songs on Lemonade aren’t as good as the first six songs on Lemonade. The first six songs on Lemonade are so good we’re a little scared of them. We still feel like we have to ask the first six songs on Lemonade for permission before we leave the crib.
It’s entirely possible the new album is so good it’ll make Channel Orange sound like a Lil Dicky mixtape. But are you sure it couldn’t be better? Are you positive it wouldn’t benefit from a Lauryn Hill feature, or perhaps some trenchant-ass liner notes by Thomas Pynchon? Maybe the songs are great, but would it hurt to have Axl Rose and Dr. Dre team up to remix them all from scratch? Elon Musk will have the Hyperloop up and running any month now — do you really want to drop this album without first checking what it sounds like when you listen to it while commuting from L.A. to San Francisco inside a giant bullet propelled by compressed air? Shouldn’t you fall back for a minute and read all six volumes of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, just to make sure you guys aren’t covering the same ground? That would be, like, so embarrassing, right? Did you watch Season 2 of Better Call Saul yet? It’s great — we don’t want to spoil anything, but he’s, like, Saul-er than ever.
Look, Frank, we’re gonna level with you here: We’re not sure we’re ready for you to drop something. We need, like, one week without a surprise album by a major artist, just to regroup and recharge. We’re tired and we miss our families and we never have sex. We’re dropping dead in the think piece mines over here, dude, and if we have to process your second album right now, we might not live to hear your third.