I am beyond excited to share my finished Capstone project, “A Blonded Life.” As my prior posts have indicated, this is an in-depth analysis of Frank Ocean’s most recent album, Blonde. The title is taken from the song “Self Control,” in which Frank Ocean sings to a former lover, “You cut your hair but you used to live a blonded life.” The album, while largely autobiographical for Ocean, is at times opaque or unclear in its various messages. Narratives overlap and lyrics are vague. However, an attentive listener can pick up on the themes of lost love, sexual identity, nostalgia, and contemporary politics. This final theme, though, is not as apparent on the album as the other ones. As I note in my overarching album analysis, some music critics faulted Ocean for failing to directly address certain controversial issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
After conducting a track-by-track analysis and examining the context of the album (and its companion magazine Boys Don’t Cry), though, I highlight how Frank Ocean actually does address salient political issues, albeit in subtle ways. The autobiographical album, without a doubt, tells stories that are very personal to the singer. While these narratives do not focus on specific political issues, Ocean notes how his life as a bisexual black man intersects with systemic racism and anti-LGBTQ sentiment.
I also examine the burden placed on Frank Ocean by fans and critics. As a black artist, the music community seems to expect more of him than other musicians. Chris Rock explained: “I always say Tom Hanks is an amazing actor and Denzel Washington is a god to his people. If you’re a black ballerina, you represent the race, and you have responsibilities that go beyond your art. How dare you just be excellent?” Even though Frank Ocean actually does address some political issues, as I point out in my essay, we should not require him to be a spokesman for his communities.
Let me know what you think of my project! Here is the link: