Is Frank Ocean Releasing a New Album in 2023?
Frank Ocean Hints at New Album at Coachella, but Says "It's Not Right Now"
Image Source: Getty / Theo Wargo
Frank Ocean broke all the rules in 2016. Marked by its heart-shattering vocals, "Blonde" was an intimate and expressive sophomore album met with critical acclaim and continued devotion from fans. From "Nikes" to "Godspeed," the sorrowful lyrics had us hooked, but before the static-laced notes of "Futura Free" trickled to a finish, he was gone. Now, seven years later, Ocean's hiatus may finally be coming to an end. During weekend one of Coachella, Ocean appeared as a headliner at the 2023 festival alongside Bad Bunny and Blackpink, where he addressed rumors that a new album is in the works.
"It's been so long. Everybody talks about how long its been," he told cheering fans, according to video footage shared on Twitter. "It's been so long but I have missed you. I want to talk about why I'm here because it's not because of the new album. Not that there's not a new album or something." Amid the uproar of the enthusiastic crowd, he added, "But there's not right now. No, chill chill chill. It's not right now."
He continued, recalling time spent at Coachella with his younger brother, Ryan Breaux, who died in a car crash in 2020. "These last couple years, my life changed so much," he said. "My brother and I, we came to this festival a lot, and I feel like I was dragged out here half the time because I hated the dust out here. I always wound up with a respiratory infection or what have you. So I would, like, avoid coming but I would always end up here." Ocean added that one of his fondest Coachella memories was listening to Rae Sremmurd with his brother. "I know [Ryan] would have been so excited to be here with all of us," he said. "I want to say thank you for the support and the ears and the love over all this time."
Ocean's personal brand of mystery, while suspenseful, has left fans on edge as we scour his social media accounts for even a morsel of something new. After countless scans of his profiles for cryptic hints at a new project, no album title, tracklist, or release date has been confirmed. The anticipation has even led to the creation of fan accounts such as Twitter user @DidOceanDrop, who provides daily updates on whether or not Ocean has dropped a new album. While the tweets to date have been a resounding mix of "no," "nahhh," and "no not at all" since 2018, Ocean's fanbase remains poised to leap on the news as soon as he deems the album complete.
Ocean's lyrics have become the soundtrack to moments of solitude post-heartbreak and late-night social media scrolls. Even all these years later, Twitter is still flooded with lyrics from "White Ferrari" paired with crying gifs. It's evident that the impact of Ocean's music is palpable, but the absence of anything new from the artist hits just as hard.
Ocean hasn't been completely quiet, however: since "Blonde," he's sporadically released singles and made feature appearances. In 2017, he appeared on JAY-Z's "Caught Their Eyes." He also collaborated with Calvin Harris on "Slide," A$AP Mob on "Raf," and Tyler, the Creator on "911 / Mr. Lonely." There was also his cover of "Moon River" released on Valentine's Day in 2018, and more recently, he shared the tracks "Dear April" and "Cayendo" in 2020.
Frank Ocean's New Album
In September 2022, the singer wiped his Instagram clean, drumming up speculation and anticipation about his new musical era. Half a year has gone by, however, with nearly no additional updates. On the 10th anniversary of his debut album, "Channel Orange," in July, the singer released a 35-minute instrumental with psychedelic undertones on an episode of his Apple Music series, "Blonded Radio." Ocean also updated his website with new merch, including "Blonded Radio" T-shirts and a "Channel Orange" poster.
In January, Ocean released another poster telling the story of a "fictional recording artist" who preferred singles over the "outdated" album distribution model prevalent in the recording industry. At the end of the text, the passage hinted at the idea that Ocean may have decided to work on a new album after all. "The Recording Artist has since changed his mind about the singles model, and is again interested in more durational bodies of work," the poster read.
The singer added fuel to the fire on April 13 when ASCAP, a membership association that licenses the public performance rights of songs for over 900,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers, revealed the singer may have registered two new songs. A new track titled "Myself to Blame" was cowritten by Christopher Breaux and James Christopher Leon and will be released under the Songs of Universal Inc. music label, according to a tweet shared by Complex. A separate song titled "Little Demon" was cowritten by Breaux and Michael Chinosmso Uzowuru.
While Ocean's legal name is Christopher Francis Ocean, née Christopher Edwin Breaux, it's unclear whether the IPI number assigned to Ocean matches that of the artist who registered the song. Additionally, Ocean has no prior association with Songs of Universal Inc. Though the validity of the new song belonging to Ocean remains up for interpretation, fans are hopeful this is a small hint at what's to come.