On Frank Ocean and the nature of hype

Former United States senator Ted Stevens once famously described the internet as a “series of tubes.” In 2006, that may have been (partially) true, but in 2016, the internet runs entirely on hype. Hype for something coming, hype for something imminent and even the extremely short window of hype when you finally have that something and you haven’t given up on it yet.

As of this writing, the internet is still waiting for a Frank Ocean album to drop into their hands today. Those same people have been waiting roughly since the singer’s sophomore album, “Channel Orange,” was released in 2012. It took a source as sterling and reputable as the New York Times to break the news that the album would be out today, but even they don’t list a source for their information. According to the article, the album, still known as “Boys Don’t Cry,” will be released today through Apple Music with a two week exclusivity, much like peer Chance the Rapper did earlier this summer with his own “Coloring Book.”

The amazing thing is, that could all be bull****. Whether its releasing images with random dates on them or putting out a video where he’s just sitting around doing not much of anything, Ocean knows exactly what he’s doing and the hypestorm that he’s conducted. If you think he hasn’t been smiling knowing how much the world is waiting on him, I’ve got a beach house I can sell you in Idaho. The internet can only handle so much hype without exploding, and even your dutiful writer is hoping that, the longer he makes his sentences, the less time he’ll have to spend waiting for “Boys Don’t Cry” to be released.

There’s a large fraction of fans who will get two minutes into the album and declare it a 10/10 album of the year contender. Heavily hyped albums of the past few years like Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo” were almost impossible to separate from a wind tunnel of internet hype. To truly appreciate music, you have to be willing to shut everything else in the world off and appreciate it, but that’s becoming more and more impossible when playing the part of a dutiful music fan increasingly includes a feeling of needing to immediately share your own dumb thoughts on something important.

Both of those albums ended up still being incredible even after an almost-deafening hype cycle, though eventually, it becomes difficult to separate your own thoughts with the 10 dozen instant think pieces, Twitter hot takes and annoying bald YouTubers shouting their star scores and Ideas™ directly into your brain. This is how a r/hiphopheads hype thread for “Boys Don’t Cry” has nearly 9,000 comments since last night, all hypothesizing the plans of a man who clearly has figured out how to remain just illusive and mysterious enough to remain interesting.

But who am I kidding? The person responsible for “Nostalgia, Ultra” and “Channel Orange” will deliver an amazing record. At this point, he kind of has to. At the same time, hype is an internet affliction that will only get worse with time, so anyone that works themselves into a stupor over an album will undoubtedly be a little disappointed, regardless of the actual content. This boy may cry, but he spills no tears for anonymous hypebeasts.



Do you think Frank Ocean is releasing an album today or nah?

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Posted in Articles, Arts+Culture, Music, This Weekend

Kevin Stairiker is a features writer for Fly. He is a graduate of Temple University and enjoys writing in third person. When he isn't writing, he's probably playing guitar for a litany of bands, reading comics or providing well-needed muscle at The Double Deuce.

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