After four years of painful silence, Frank Ocean is back with a vengeance. Ever since he surprise released his visual album, Endless, on Friday, the singer has been gifting us non-stop. On Saturday, he dropped “Nikes” with an accompanying music video, just hours before finally debuting his long-awaited sophomore LP, Blonde. A dreamy mix of pop, rap, R&B and electronica, the album was worth the wait, as Ocean transcends genre and continues with the emotional lyrics and melodies we first fell in love with on 2012’s CHANNEL Orange.
And as if two records, 35 tracks, a music video and a 45-minute visual album in two days weren’t enough, Ocean also unveiled his highly anticipated zine, Boys Don’t Cry, on Sunday at a few select pop-up locations in New York, LA, Chicago and London. The already sold-out free zine has three different cover options and features artwork, poems, collages and essays from Ocean, as well as a handful of collaborators including Kanye West, Tom Sachs, Tyler the Creator and Lil B.
Along with a powerful personal essay about Ocean’s sexuality and some insight into the making of Blonde, Boys Don’t Cry also includes a long list of Ocean’s favorite songs that showcase the singer’s seriously diverse musical taste, from Donna Summer to Steve Reich to Kraftwerk. The list, and zine, highlight what is perhaps Ocean’s biggest contribution to modern music—particularly hip-hop. Not only does the singer subvert outdated ideals of heteronormative sexuality and black masculinity often reinforced by the genre, he also brings a strong dose of refreshing experimentation.
Ocean’s authenticity is needed, especially when artists can carefully curate the truth they’d like us to see online. In a walls-down essay shared on Tumblr, Ocean writes: “Boys do cry, but I don’t think I shed a tear for a good chunk of my teenage years. It’s surprisingly my favorite part of life so far. Surprising, to me, because the current phase is what I was asking the cosmos for when I was a kid. Maybe that part had its rough stretches too, but in my rearview mirror it’s getting small enough to convince myself it was all good. And really though…it’s still all good.”
Though just a list, Ocean’s Spotify playlist of favorite songs, below, highlights the way Ocean is reimagining genre by completely discarding it, infusing the hyper-masculine world of hip-hop with queerness, and art with sincerity. In Boys Don’t Cry, he writes, “I don’t want straight—a little bent is good.”
Listen to Ocean’s favorites, below, and stream Endless and Blonde exclusively through Apple Music.