The Disappearance of Frank Ocean

By Will Caraccio

Frank Ocean has always preferred a life of secrecy to the typical public extravagance associated with fame. After releasing his hit record channel ORANGE in 2012, Ocean was rocketed into global stardom seemingly overnight. Selling over 700,000 copies worldwide, his first album revolutionized the music industry and threw the singer/songwriter into the limelight. For nearly 6 years following his album’s release, Ocean maintained a state of radio silence, communicating with his robust fan base only through infrequent posts on Tumblr–a social media site known for its introverted users. When it came time for Ocean to release his next album, as insisted by his record label, he did so in the least conspicuous fashion, so as to gather the minimal amounts of attention. Ocean released Blonde, his much anticipated musical return, and Endless, a visual album Ocean created with Apple Music, within days of each other, rather than spacing out his releases to attract publicity. Even in his most public moment–the releasing of an album that was 6-years in the making–Frank Ocean shied away from the spotlight, unhappy with the mass scrutiny placed upon him. 

As explained in both Endless and Blonde, Ocean’s prolonged periods of silence and hope to remain anonymous stem from his deep hatred of fame. Blonde’s Siegfried in particular describes the anguish of constant judgement from the outside world and illustrates Ocean’s desire to escape the circumstances of his life. Unsurprisingly, since his spontaneous double release, Ocean has receded back into silence, with the exception of a few singles. While it was rumored that Ocean would perform his final album live at Coachella 2020, recent events have made the return of the reserved artist incredibly unlikely. In response to the difficulties of 2020, Ocean canceled all vinyl orders made from fans, issuing a refund. Just a few months later, Ocean’s 18-year-old brother, Ryan Breaux, died tragically in a car crash–Ocean made no public statement. Though 2020 has come and gone, Frank Ocean’s disappearing act will most likely continue.