Flipping through the glossy blown-up pages of Frank Ocean‘s Boys Don’t Cry ‘zine, a companion piece to his long-awaited third studio Blonde, it’s hard to imagine how such an expansive and dynamic body of work came together in only four years. There are lists galore, recollections of time and memories past via photos, movies, songs, screenplays, interviews, astrology. The raw elements of an album that destroys and then rebuilds any construct of what we thought a Frank album to be–or could be, for that matter.
One of those lists happens to capture some of Frank’s favorite cuts. But as the final notes on the closing epic “Futura Free” fade out, it’s immediately clear that there’s so much more to unpack on Blonde than what he’s put before us. He leaves a trail, no doubt, but it’s scattered and muddied up with glitter, kush smoke and mushroom stems. Now with a few days of rotation under our belts, we can finally step back and look at Blonde as a whole, realized piece of art. Layered, emotional, complicated. So instead of giving you another playlist that’s only going to distract you from climbing the mountain that is Frank’s two-part opus, here’s a little guide to the album’s collaborators, and the influences we hear in it, encouraging you to weigh in with your own takes in the comment section below.