What the Interviews in Frank Ocean's Magazine Can Tell Us About the Album (and Life Itself)

Turns out, the woman behind those "drugs are bad for you" voicemails is not Frank's mom.

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Aug 23 2016, 8:38pm


Via Frank Ocean's tumblr

On Saturday, with no warning, Frank Ocean discreetly opened four pop-up shops around the world hocking his new Boys Don’t Cry project. Instead of the album we had all assumed it was, the project was a 360+ page, oversized, high gloss zine filled with fashion shoots, photography stories and poetry. Nestled at it’s core was a version of Ocean’s album, Blonde.

No one knows how many magazines were released, some say that the London pop-up only had about 400 for their early morning launch. The New York shop ran out of issues after about three hours of giving them away. Since then there has been no official word on whether or not the issue will see a wider release though his mother alluded to that happening.

In the interim, we dig into the magazine’s feature interviews for its revelations about Frank, the album, and life in general.

The Woman Behind The Voicemails Is Not Frank’s Mom

On both Channel Orange and Blonde a stern motherly voice imparts wisdom via voice recording as an interlude. For Orange, that came in the form of “Not Just Money.” On Blonde it was “Be Yourself,” a minute and a half voicemail about the dangers of drugs. Many on social media (as well as publications like New York Times and Complex) have speculated that the speaker is Frank’s mom as at one point she says “This is mom.” As evidenced in the feature story of Boys Don’t Cry entitled “This Is Mom,” that is not the case.

Her name is Rosie Watson and she’s the mother of Ocean’s “good friend Jonathan.” “With a big heart and warm persona, Rosie’s quick to take on others as her own and gives Frank the same maternal care and advice Jonathan reaps,” Danna Takako writes. Watson refers to Frank as her nephew Lonny while Frank and others like Tyler the Creator and Syd Tha Kid refer to her as “Auntie.”

It was actually through Jonathan and Rosie that Frank met Syd the Kid. “They would meet at Sydney’s house in high school, and they would compose music,” Wation said. “I stayed on Lonny: “ Lonny, get my son home by curfew!’ I made him give me his cell phone number, and I would fuss at him. I kept him running for sure.”

Frank was in for loads of advice from Auntie Watson. The last piece of advice she gave him though came in person. “When I last saw him, he came by the house, and he was in this beautiful … Porsche I think i was? Sedan? It was gorgeous.” Both Watson and Frank share a love of cars. “I said, Remember in life, you have to have both swagger and sway. Having swagger is not enough in life. With swagger alone, you’re convincing yourself that you have something that you really may not have, and that others don’t see in you. Sway is knowing what to do with that swagger. Sway is influence.”

Based God Is (No Surprise) Full of Wisdom

In “Holy Combat,” Frank sits down with the BasedGod himself for a stream of conscious conversation about everything. The pair hop from what an IPO is ( BasedGod says “So look, you gotta tell me, cus you saying words I don’t even know. IPO, what does that mean?” when it comes up) to how people use your influence to make money ( Frank reveals “My last record, I didn’t make a vinyl. But somebody did and sold a whole lot of vinyl. They had mp3s on it, not properly done at all. Still they’ll win because there’s a demand for it) and even BasedGod’s book writing (“I already got the title,” he says when Frank asks him if he’s working on another book.

During the conversation, Frank Ocean reveals he’s a big fan of BasedGod’s approach to music. “Your approach to [music] is modern. You aren’t pinned down by the house rules.” Frank says. “The corporate America music shit, you know? I feel like the ‘Based Way’ is a lot healthier, because it’s in a flow, unencumbered. To be able to take time and prepare a body of work is great, but overall being free-form with our output is better in the long run, I think. I’d like to be more like that.” That might give reason to why Ocean to what has taken so long for a new project. “I aint on no schedule,” he sings on Futura Free “I aint had a job since 2009.”

In another tangent the two discuss the origin story of BasedGod’s “Stealing from Strippers. ““I was at the strip club or whatever, and I was at the front part and she was dancing, and I wasn’t paying I was just looking and I was with my friend, and I think it was my friend’s birthday, I took him out for his birthday. This was when I was younger I felt I was doing it big, rented the limo and everything, took him out, and man, she smack!” Eventually, the artist put his feelings about the situation on wax.

BasedGod is also working on a second book. After writing his first book at the age of 19, the multihyphenate star is working on a follow up. When Frank asks whether he’s going to write another he says “Yes, yes I am. I’m definitely — I already got the title.” He goes on to say, “It’s gonna be powerful, so I like really wanna get back o writing that. LIke I just been so excited about making music bruh and like all the shit that I got planned.

Someone Tried To Mug Frank Ocean and Other LIfe Experiences of Note

In a Q&A entitled “KeyWords” with fellow musicians Christophe Chassol and Om’Mas Keith, Frank gets more than personal.

Apparently, someone tried to steal his mug him. “I’ve had a guy come up to me and put a pistol to my sternum and ask me to run my 7D,” Ocean explains referring to his camera. “I was like ‘man I haven’t got my photos off my fucking camera, you can’t have my camera.’ He didn’t shoot me, he ran down the alley and got in his car. Honest to god, on my dog’s life.” The revelation seems to nod back to a comment he made on “Futura Free.” There he sings “I aint running for a nigga, aint run since track meets that’s the only time I ran from a nigga, you can change this track now.”

Prince helped Frank come to terms with his singing style though his mother objected. Though it’s common knowledge that Prince helped Frank understand his sexuality, the artist also reveals that the late star validated his vocal abilities. “When I used to sing when I was younger, my mom would be like, ‘Stop hollering!’ It used to make me all self-conscious about how I sounded, like my tone of voice or how loud I was,” He said. “I discovered Prince at my mom’s friend Jheri’s house, I mean she used to have him on like every day and I honestly didn’t pay attention at first but I vividly remember the first time I heard ‘Beautiful Ones’ and this grown man singing for his life. Immediately I remember it clicking like ‘Oh, it’s okay to holler and scream and everything. LIke express yourself kid… go off! So yeah, Prince basically made it all okay.”

Frank’s first porn experience involved a lot of waiting around. Coming up around the time when the internet was being made available to everyone, made accessing pornography a feat for Frank. “I used to watch channel 55 at a certain hour, they would show the pornos,” He explained. “It was pay per view. It would be like fuzzy screen. I would watch the screen just waiting to get like a clear moment. That was my only porn access.” Eventually, the internet came along but there was still no reprieve.

“I was in the AOL Kids environment,” he explained “so I couldn’t get onto the main browser. I didn’t even think of the internet like that at that point.” Well now, access to nudes is as easy as hopping on Tumblr or copping an issue of Boys Don’t Cry.

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