Last week, Frank Ocean fans around the world took to their phones as news spread that the enigmatic artist has made his Instagram account public for the first time. Despite his large, loyal following, Ocean is renowned for his privacy. So, it is no surprise that admirers (celebrity and public alike) have jumped at the chance to catch a rare glimpse of this musical genius and his world. Posting a photo captioned “Welcome”, the move to go public was clearly an intentional one and naturally begs the question, is new music on the way?
Long-time Frank Ocean fans have become painfully accustomed to being patient for new music—the artist took a four-year hiatus between the release of his highly-anticipated debut Channel Orange in 2012 and his two follow-up albums, Endless and Blonde, four years later. Aside from features on tracks by artists like Tyler the Creator and Travis Scott, and releasing a handful of singles sporadically in 2017 and 2018, things have largely been quiet on the new music front. Always outspoken politically, during the past U.S. midterm elections in a bid to get people to vote, Frank arranged for voters in Houston, Miami, Atlanta and Dallas to get their hands on specially designed Blonded merchandise for free by simply providing proof they had voted.
The singer’s activities have always been unpredictable, but the most recent move to make his Instagram account public is so far out of character that people are beginning to speculate that new music may be heading our way. Until now, the bridge between Frank Ocean and his fans has always been the music: much of his artistic identity has centered around pouring so much of himself into it. Whether he’s exploring his sexuality in fine detail as he did throughout Channel Orange, or speaking to the unique nuances of growing up (like with the lyric, “On my lapel, at the table, I’m givin’ a toast/The first wedding that I’ve been in my twenties/ Thinkin that maybe someone is not somethin’ to own”on “Biking), Frank Ocean is an expert at crafting vivid reference points for his listeners. Collectively, we have come to understand that Frank is an expert storyteller.
This recent move to make his Instagram public doesn’t feel like Ocean is selling out or compromising his “mysterious” identity.
Though that has traditionally come through his music, true fans respect him enough to appreciate any medium through which he expresses himself. In that sense, this recent move to make his Instagram public doesn’t feel like Ocean is selling out or compromising his “mysterious” identity but is rather adding an additional outlet through which he can share his life and experiences.
It seems that, whether on social media or not, Ocean is going to be his authentic, nonconformist self, regardless. Far from losing his characteristic uniqueness, it is my feeling that this added dimension of his life now opened up to his fans will only help to enthuse fans, who now get to enjoy some of his real-time moments via Instagram stories, whether that be him flying over New York City in a helicopter or speaking broken French while doing a face mask. Fans are now able to access him during hiatus periods through Instagram, and it is entirely possible that this will only serve to increase intrigue and fervor for new music, whenever he finally decides to release it.