It’s nearly one year since the supposed release of Boys Don’t Cry, the new album and magazine that Frank Ocean promised would arrive in July 2015.
Ocean first hinted at the release in an April 2015 Tumblr post, which showed him posing in front of a pile of records and books, and used the hashtags #ISSUE1 #ALBUM3 #JULY2015 #BOYSDONTCRY. He added in a caption, "I got two versions. I got twoooo versions." Shortly after, a representative for Ocean confirmed to Billboard that his new publication and album were due in July of that year.
In June 2015, Ocean opened a Snapchat account under the name "arealglitterboy” but posted just one snap, a selfie in which he wore a jacket from Japanese brand Undercover, decorated with the cover art from the New York band Television’s 1977 album Marquee Moon.
July 2015 came and went, and neither an album or magazine came out.
A year on, the rumors about the follow-up to 2012's Channel Orange are stacking up. With no confirmed release date in place, a rep for Ocean said “no comment at this point,” when asked by The FADER for any information on the album. So we decided to do some sleuthing of our own. Here’s every detail we have learned about the album since last summer.
Ocean’s website was updated with inaccessible tabs for “Audio” and “Text” plus merchandise including a T-Shirt and hoodie with checkered pattern on the sleeve. There were also shoes created in collaboration with the Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. Later that same month he pulled out of a headline appearance at LA’s FYF Fest and was replaced on the bill by Kanye West.
Ian Connor said on Instagram that Playboi Carti recorded with Frank Ocean in New York. Music from the session has yet to appear anywhere.
Ocean was reported to be working with French DJ/producer SebastiAn. In an interview with French magazine Les in Rocks, Ed Banger (SebastiAn's label) founder Pedro Winter, aka Busy P, said, "SebastiAn just finished production on a few pieces for Frank Ocean — a truly exciting collaboration — and then he will finally be able to turn to his second album." These comments were subsequently toned down by Winter in a statement given to The FADER . "SebastiAn met Frank Ocean few times, that's all we know. For further infos please contact Frank's management."
Also in October, Ocean’s barber in London claimed a new album was “dropping soon” and was “well worth the wait.”
Ocean was photographed in the studio with Khushi, a London-based electronic singer-songwriter.
Several Hudson Mohawke beats surfaced on Reddit in a folder labelled "frank o0000oocean". A source close to HudMo confirmed to The FADER that these are beats that he made, but would not comment on what they’re actually being used for.
Rich The Kid tweeted (and then deleted) a screenshot from a FaceTime session with Ocean. A source close to Rich The Kid confirmed to The FADER that the pair had plans to hit the studio that day, though nothing has been released since January. Rich The Kid later revealed that he reached out to Ocean first.
Kanye West released The Life Of Pablo on February 14. Ocean contributed vocals to the original version of “Wolves,” but that track was later separated and became "Frank’s Track" as ‘Ye tinkered with his album. Ocean attended Yeezy Season 3 in New York and watched the show from the sidelines. When The Life Of Pablo finished playing, an aux cord was passed round and both Young Thug and Vic Mensa played new material from their phones. Ocean, looking on in the background, sadly didn't grab the lead.
On February 29, a three-minute long leak of unreleased music appeared online. It was quickly pulled from Soundcloud, although two brief Instagram clips, of different songs, lasted a little longer. The person responsible for uploading the music claimed it was played at a "very very secret Frank Ocean listening party."
In an interview with Pitchfork, Channel Orange producer Malay spoke briefly about Frank Ocean's new music. "When he's ready, the world is gonna get it," he said. "It could be tomorrow… well not tomorrow but maybe a month [laughs]. He's been working super hard. I feel like he's working harder than he's ever worked in his life. I'm excited for everyone to hear it. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised, for sure."
James Blake released his new album The Colour In Anything, which included a songwriting credit for Ocean on two tracks. Speaking about Ocean’s new material, Blake told Rolling Stone: "It's better. You grow, you improve, you nail a new message to the board. He's had time to mature. It's really cool to watch."
“I am good friends with Frank. His new album is amazing,” Chance The Rapper told Complex in a video interview published on May 12. He also admitted that it’s not just fans who can’t keep in contact with him. “No-one is really able to find Frank when Frank goes away, literally no-one, not just publications,” he said. “I know he’s away making a masterpiece. I think that Frank is very, very focused on his catalogue. Anything that you hear him on that’s a feature was recorded a long time ago… I don’t think Frank is working on anyone’s stuff except for his own.”
Eagle-eyed fans watching 4AD’s electronic artist Holly Herndon open for Radiohead in Amsterdam spotted a folder on her laptop titled “Beats 4 FOcean.” The desktop was projected behind the stage during her live performance.
Just weeks after sharing a heartfelt message for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub killing in Orlando, Ocean updated his website with an image of a library card labelled Boys Don’t Cry and marked “Due Date.” The title of the post, as the HTML code reads, is “Late.”