CarsFrank Ocean Is a Long-Time Car Snob
From his very first mixtape up to the release of Blonde, Frank Ocean has always shown his love for BMWs.
Frank Ocean spends so much time in cars that he thinks he might die in one. In an essay taken from his magazine Boys Don’t Cry and posted to his Tumblr, Ocean muses, “How much of my life has happened inside of a car? I wonder if the odds are that I’ll die in one.” While it’s a bleak subject for an editor’s letter, it points to Frank Ocean’s deep-seated obsession with auto culture.
The designer Raf Simons, newly minted creative director of Calvin Klein, once laid into the avant-soul singer, telling him his car obsession was “cliché.” Dude obviously never had his wig snatched riding in a convertible E30. Still, Ocean argues in his essay that it “links to a deep subconscious straight boy fantasy”—a fantasy that we’d imagine includes road head and a stop at In-N-Out. Rather than name drop like some of his contemporaries (Rick Ross, Gucci Mane et al), his passion for cars provides a swerving metaphorical narrative throughout his songs. It’s even seduced new fans. “I remember downloading Nostalgia, Ultra because of the album cover, I didn't even know who the guy was,” wrote one BMW diehard in an online forum.
Frank Ocean is an unapologetic gearhead. In the Tyrone Lebon-directed video for “Nikes,” Ocean is surrounded by McLaren whips. He’s slotted in references to gas guzzlers in songs like “Swim Good,” “Acura Integurl,” and Blonde’s “White Ferrari.” He’s meticulously rebuilt his 1990 BMW E30 sleeper to have right-hand drive. But for all the lyrical hoonage on Blonde and his past releases, Ocean has revealed himself to be somewhat of a car snob. His taste in vehicles has run the gamut, with a majority of love reserved for Beamers (he owns an E30 and a late-model blue M3). Just how exactly has his car snobbery evolved? Let’s take a look.
Mustang 5.0 in “American Wedding”
A Fox-body Mustang 5.0 fronted his mixtape, The Lonny Breaux Collection. It’s that entry level classic that makes perfect sense splashed across his first sonic gift to the world. It also makes a cameo in his song “American Wedding”: “After school she ran to me / jumped in my 5.0, this is the home of the brave, land of the free, but your parents still didn’t know.”
Lincoln Town Car in "Swim Good"
Frank Ocean’s Lincoln Town Car has a “pretty big trunk,” which houses all the metaphorical hearts he breaks. Sigh. True to his hunger for accuracy, the music video features a 1985 stretched Town Car in orange.
Orange E30 M3 with BBS wheels
Moving up the automotive ladder into Europe, his sophomore effort Nostalgia, Ultra, is instantly recognizable because of the bright orange Bimmer on its cover. It’s got the BBS wheels, too. This is the beginning of his obsession with this particular model of BMW.
1991 Acura NSX in "Acura Integurl"
Ocean salutes the Honda Acura NSX in his track “Acura Integurl.” “This song is dedicated to my ’91 Ac-ur-a my 1991,” he sings. In the music video, Ocean winds through canyons in a red NSX—proof that he’ll take speed over aesthetic any day.
Gold BMW E30
Perhaps the model Ocean drools over most, there is a spread featuring a gold BMW E30, part of the brand’s 3 series, in Boys Don’t Cry. At one of his shows at London’s Brixton Academy in 2013, a video played behind Ocean featuring “a gold car proceeding at a steady pace through a featureless desert landscape.”
The 14th track on Blonde, “White Ferrari”, is the most blatant reference to a car on his latest release. A song about a drive with his lover, “White Ferrari” has been assumed by lyric scrutinizers to be the car that ferries us to heaven, a metaphor for taking a ride to Heaven’s Gate in a bucket seat. Hey, we can think of worse ways to get to the Big Man. Like a Dodge Caravan.