The “Surprise Drop” is Status Quo. Frank Ocean Broke That.

I just finished listening to Frank Ocean’s new collection of work again; I’ve lost track of how much I’ve listened in the last day or so. Here are some thoughts.

Now of days many artists are releasing “surprise albums.” Think Beyonce, Drake, etc.

Frank Ocean’s long overdue, but more importantly highly anticipated, followed suit. The existence of it was noted periodically via vague, ominous, and at times false posts on his own blog.

He dragged on a live stream for weeks, culminating in the release of “Endless” a 45 min visual album. But that wasn’t the album. And then the video for “Nikes” released. Later followed by the actual album “Blonde” (no longer titled “Boys Don’t Cry”). Oh and there’s some “zine” that has a different track list.

All Beyonce and Drake scale surprises in their own right.

But the key differentiator: Frank is making us pay attention in a way the former hasn’t.

The surprise is now status quo. And he knows this. So he did the same, but with a twist.

  1. Do it the old way: Build anticipation around a “concrete” period of time.
  2. Give us “behind the scenes:” Showed us the process of building something with “Endless.”
  3. Do the Mic Drop: Blind sided us with an entire album.

An artist can no longer just deliver an album. If they want to do it right, they now have to deliver a moment, a peek into the artist’s mind.