Frank Ocean’s Uneditable Genius

If we were going to get picky, to look the gift horse that was this weekend’s magnificent Frank Ocean triumvirate — his visual album, Endless; his “actual” album, Blonde; his accompanying zine, Boys Don’t Cry — right in the mouth, we might say this: Dude could occasionally use an editor. Someone to put his arm around Frank, real casual-like, and say, lightly, “Hey, Frank. Maybe you don’t need to release three weighty-ass works of art in the span of three days. What if you built in some time for people to digest each course? What if you cut 10 percent of the static from that interview at the end of ‘Futura Free’? What if you — I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here — picked 15 photos of cars for the zine instead of hundreds and hundreds?”

But Frank Ocean is, and always has been, the only editor Frank Ocean heeds. This is, of course, inextricable from his genius; nobody puts Frank Ocean in a corner, so we all get the immense pleasure of watching him dirty dance by himself. Nowhere is this resistance to trimming more apparent — or more deranged and beautifully realized — than in Boys Don’t Cry, a nearly 400-page tome stuffed full of erotic car photography, rambling interviews with people in Ocean’s orbit, dystopian fiction, screenshots of Ocean’s browsing history, and a 12-page spread devoted to Kanye West’s trip to McDonald’s. At the end of the zine, in a (long, but you already knew that) list of credits, Frank Ocean is identified as its editor-in-chief and creative director (he shares the latter title with frequent collaborator Thomas Mastorakos). There are “sub editors” and an “editor’s assistant” and an “intern,” but these are Ocean’s waters, and as such, the traditional rules don’t apply. This is some maritime-law shit.

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