Frank Ocean is one of the most influential and enigmatic artists of our time. His music transcends genres and boundaries, blending R&B, soul, pop, hip-hop, rock, and experimental sounds. His album Blonde, released in 2016, is widely regarded as a masterpiece and one of the best albums of the decade. But what makes Blonde even more special is its vinyl edition, which has become one of the most sought-after and collectible records in history. In this article, we will explore the story behind Frank Ocean’s Blonde vinyl, how it was made, what makes it unique, and why it is so coveted by fans and collectors alike.
The Making of Blonde: A Four-Year Journey of Experimentation and Collaboration
Frank Ocean’s musical journey leading up to Blonde was not a smooth one. After releasing his critically acclaimed debut album, Channel Orange, in 2012, he went on a long hiatus, leaving fans wondering if he would ever release new music again. He also parted ways with his label, Def Jam, and became an independent artist, giving him more creative freedom and control over his work.
Blonde was the result of four years of hard work, experimentation, and collaboration. Frank Ocean recorded the album in various locations around the world, including London, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris. He worked with a diverse range of producers and musicians, such as Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, Jonny Greenwood, Rick Rubin, and many more. He also drew inspiration from various sources, such as literature, film, art, philosophy, and personal experiences.
Blonde is a complex and layered album that explores themes such as identity, sexuality, love, loss, nostalgia, and self-discovery. It features 17 tracks (or 19 on the vinyl version) that range from minimalist acoustic ballads to psychedelic pop anthems. The album showcases Frank Ocean’s versatility as a singer, songwriter, and storyteller. It also challenges the conventions and expectations of mainstream music and culture.
Blonde received universal acclaim from critics and fans alike upon its release. It was praised for its sonic richness, emotional depth, lyrical brilliance, and artistic vision. It was named one of the best albums of 2016 by various publications such as Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The New York Times, and many more. It was also nominated for several awards, including a Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
According to Rolling Stone, Blonde is “a dizzy, trippy, druggy marvel” that “finds [Frank Ocean] writing richly emotional songs for a quieter, more meditative space.” Pitchfork called it “a vertiginous marvel of digital-age psychedelic pop” that “transcends genres boundaries expectations.” The Independent described it as “a trickling bubble bath of an album that ultimately runs lukewarm” but also acknowledged Frank Ocean’s “genius vision and impact as an artist.” Music Critic gave it a perfect score of 100 based on 28 critics’ reviews.
The Blonde Vinyl Release: A Surprise Drop with Limited Availability
The initial release of Blonde was a surprise to everyone. On August 20th, 2016, Frank Ocean released a visual album titled Endless exclusively on Apple Music. The next day, he released Blonde digitally on his website, blonded.co, and on Apple Music as well. He also opened pop-up shops in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, London, and Atlanta, where he gave away free copies of a magazine called Boys Don’t Cry, which contained a CD version of Blonde along with art photography, poetry, and interviews.
But the most elusive and exclusive item that Frank Ocean released was the Blonde vinyl edition, which was only available for 24 hours on his website on November 25th, 2016, coinciding with Black Friday. The vinyl edition cost $35 USD and came in a gatefold sleeve with a poster and lyrics insert. It also featured two bonus tracks: Nikes (Alt Version) and Mitsubishi Sony, which were not included on the digital or CD versions of the album.
The Blonde vinyl edition was limited to one per customer and had an estimated shipping time of 8–12 weeks. However, many customers had to wait much longer than that to receive their orders, some even up to a year. Some customers also received damaged or defective copies or never received their orders at all. Frank Ocean’s website offered little to no customer service or updates on the status of the orders, leaving many fans frustrated and disappointed.
The Cult Status of Blonde Vinyl: Why It Is So Coveted and Expensive
Despite these issues, the Blonde vinyl edition became a highly coveted item among Frank Ocean fans and vinyl collectors. It was also praised for its quality sound, packaging, and artwork. Many fans considered it to be the definitive version of the album and a collector’s item worth keeping for years to come.
According to Discogs, an online marketplace for music collectors, Blonde Vinyl is currently ranked as the #1 most wanted record in their database, with over 23 000 users adding it to their want lists. It is also ranked as the #1 most-collected record, with over 13,000 users adding it to their collections.
The demand for Blonde vinyl has also driven up its price significantly over the years. According to Discogs data, the average selling price for Blonde vinyl has increased from $35 USD in 2016 to $1,000 USD in 2021, making it one of the most expensive records ever sold on their platform. Some copies have even sold for more than $2,000 USD on rare occasions.
There are several factors that contribute to the desirability of Frank Ocean’s Blonde vinyl. One of them is the quality of the pressing and packaging. The vinyl edition features a high-fidelity sound that enhances the sonic richness and depth of the album. The gatefold sleeve and poster also showcase the stunning artwork and photography that accompany the album. The lyrics insert also provides insight into Frank Ocean’s poetic and personal writing style.
Another factor is the limited editions and special variants that exist for Blonde vinyl. The original pressing from 2016 is stylized as “Blond” and features a black-and-white cover with a photo of Frank Ocean with green hair and a band-aid on his finger. This version is considered to be the rarest and most valuable among collectors. The second official version from 2022 is titled “Blonde” and features a colour cover with a photo of Frank Ocean with blonde hair and no band-aid. This version also includes two bonus tracks that were not on the original pressing: Nikes (Alt Version) and Mitsubishi Sony. There are also unofficial versions of Blonde Vinyl that have been released by various sources over the years. Some of these versions have different colours, such as blue, pink, or clear vinyl. Some also have different tracklists, such as adding songs from Endless or other Frank Ocean projects.
The third factor is the connection to Frank Ocean’s evolving career and persona. Blonde Vinyl represents a milestone in Frank Ocean’s artistic journey, as it was his first independent release after leaving his label and his first major project after a long hiatus. It also reflects his growth as a musician, as he experimented with different sounds, styles, and collaborators. Blonde Vinyl also captures a moment in time when Frank Ocean was at the peak of his popularity and influence, as he received widespread acclaim and recognition for his album. Since then, Frank Ocean has become more elusive and selective with his releases, making his fans cherish his music even more.
Conclusion: A Piece of Art, a Collector’s Item, and a Cultural Phenomenon
Frank Ocean’s Blonde Vinyl is more than just a record. It is a piece of art, a collector’s item, and a cultural phenomenon. It is a testament to Frank Ocean’s genius, vision, and impact as an artist. It is also a symbol of his fans’ loyalty, passion, and appreciation for his music. Frank Ocean’s Blonde Vinyl is one of the most wanted records of all time because it is one of the best records of all time.