Frank Ocean Just Released Another New Track, "Nikes," With an Intricate, Vaguely NSFW Video

The video dropped on Apple Music in the early hours of the morning with the long-awaited album due out this weekend.

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20 August 2016, 12:41pm

After all that—all the delays and teasers and promises of Something Coming Soon—we’re now in the midst of a Frank Ocean release process. What that release is, exactly, is hard to pin down. Endless, the visual album that Ocean dropped on Thursday, is not the long-anticipated Boys Don’t Cry but something else entirely, a 45-minute video of Ocean building his spiral staircase with an 18-track album playing in the background. And Boys Don’t Cry isn’t Boys Don’t Cry anymore; the album title has changed, we’re told, and the music that Ocean’s been recording to go under that banner will drop this weekend under a new name. We can all be forgiven for some skepticism on that count, but Something Is Happening and Ocean, finally, seems ready.

In the early hours of this morning, around the time that his records take on that perfect melancholy playing on phone speakers, Ocean released another brand new song, “Nikes,” complete with a gorgeous, beautifully directed video. It’s essentially a track in two parts, something that Ocean’s toyed with before, opening up with competing auto-tuned vocals, one pitched down, one pitched up. “I got two versions, I got two versions, I got two versions” says the deep voice as the track eases in, reinforcing his original promise on the new album from last year.

Lyrically, Ocean roams around; it’s part eulogy, part lament. “Pour one for A$AP / RIP Pimp C / RIP Trayvon, that nigga look just like me,” he sings in the first verse as images of A$AP Yams and Martin flicker onto the screen, the former held up by A$AP Rocky. By the second verse, he’s turned to his 3am post-party blues, trying to keep up with himself as the depression sets in: “We’ll let you guys prophesy / We’ll let you guys prophesy / We gon' see the future first / We’ll let you guys prophesy / We gon' see the future first / Living so the last night feels like a past life.”

By the time the auto-pitch has drifted away and the auto-tune is all that's left, he’s addressing a lover, half-pleading: “We're not in love, but I make love to you / When you're not here I save some for you / I’m not him but I mean something to you / I mean something to you / I mean something to you / You got a roommate he’ll hear what we do / It’s only awkward if you’re fucking him too.”

The video itself is a departure from the stark black-and-white visuals that have accompanied everything Frank Ocean-related over the past couple weeks. It jumps between Ocean setting himself ablaze, VHS-quality snapshots of others, the singer performing to an empty theatre. It’s gorgeously shot, meticulously put together, and every bit as beautiful as the track itself.

Frank Ocean might be the only person who knows if another full-length album is dropping this weekend. Hell, he might not even know himself. But “Nikes” is the sort of deft, challenging, and instinctively breathtaking track that kept people clinging onto Ocean in the first place.

Alex Robert Ross just watched this video ten times. He'll watch it ten more before the morning is out. Follow him on Twitter.