MusicBoys Don't Cry, but Frank Ocean's "Nikes" Will Make You Weep
A video well worth the wait.
Now that the mystery of the live stream has been solved, Frank Ocean fans have been left with that familiar feeling of "what's next?" The music on Endless is no slouch—it's all actually quite brilliant. But without a true album format or any obvious stand out hit single, it hasn't exactly diffused the hype for Boys Don't Cry. Thankfully, this morning Ocean dropped a video for his first true single since Channel Orange, titled "Nikes."
Though it's less than five minutes long, the video throws so much visual information at you that it's hard to remember everything you've seen even after multiple viewings. And in Frank Ocean form, none of the meanings or symbolism are exactly obvious. There's naked dancers with angel wings (both male and female), a woman spreading her legs to unleash a hypnotizing glitter storm, Frank Ocean lighting himself on fire (while wearing a ski mask and all-black outfit), A$AP Rocky holding a photo of the late A$AP Yams, Frank Ocean holding a photo of the late Trayvon Martin ("That n***a looked just like me," he sings), a rapping Chihuahua, a man dressed like the devil dancing in a theater, Frank Ocean wearing a glittery outfit then collapsing on stage in said theater, a film set, close-ups of steamy sex, a woman in a tank of water, and a lanky young man embracing an older woman from behind. The only readily-apparent reference is the allusion to the Heaven's Gate cult, the tragic event in which a group engaged in a mass suicide while wearing the same pair of Nikes. Making it through the video feels like an accomplishment, but the experience is also extremely moving.
The song is interesting for different reasons. Nothing about the beat or tempo or melody is particularly bizarre, but for the first three minutes of the song, Frank distorts his voice his two ways by both deepening it and making it higher. On his Tumblr page in 2015, he unveiled the Boys Don't Cry album with the words "I got two versions, I got twoooo versions." Ocean speaks those same words early in "Nikes." Maybe the polar opposites octave-wise are meant to represent the two versions of ourselves, or maybe he just really has two versions of the album. Who knows, and who cares, because this shit was well worth the wait.