Sunday night, during the year’s most progressively underwhelming pop music event, Frank Ocean premiered the latest installment of his Apple Music show, Blonded Radio. Once again, the singer and his cohosts—Vegyn and Roof Access—shepherded us through a couple of hours of eclectic selections, featuring everything from Sinatra to A$AP Mob to ’80s Nigerian disco. As is custom, Ocean closed the episode with a new song of his own. This time, we were gifted “Provider,” a creeping ballad so hauntingly good, it’ll make you want to strap a knife to your cassette player.
The real news of the night, however, was that Ocean, a noted cinefile, is working on a project with director Spike Jonze. A project involving the two has been speculated about ever since Jonze helped film the incredibly cinematic visual projections at Ocean’s various festival appearances this summer. The confirmation came in the form of a recorded FaceTime call that occurs at the show’s 1:29:20 mark. In it, the 29-year-old singer can be heard discussing a visual project with the Her director that they appear to have collaborated on. “I remember seeing it in the cinema 3-D renders, like the first idea, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’” Ocean says of it at one point. While what they’re referring to exactly is never specified, the audio is interspliced with what seem like sound bites from a tour documentary. We hear snippets of band members reflecting on their time working with Ocean. We hear a clip of Jonze, in which he tells a funny story about Ocean saving him from falling into a hole in the stage during a show. And we learn that, whatever it is, Brad Pitt’s in it. “Remember when Brad was at my house and we were talking about it all, [and] Brad was like, “What do you guys think?’” Jonze recalls giddily.
This was Ocean’s seventh episode of Blonded Radio, and many on Reddit seem to think it’s his last. During the broadcast, Ocean took time to acknowledge the passage of a full year since the releases of his magna opera Blonde and Endless—the projects that concluded the four-year period in which the platinum-selling artist did not release a major record—and to hint at what he has planned next: “Before I was done with [Blonde], I was telling myself, ‘I’m gonna do all these things when it’s done.’ And, one of ’em was like, ‘I’m gonna go to school … and learn something that’s more technical and not so vulnerable.” Ocean reminisced. “I mean, you’ve built a spiral staircase. That’s pretty technically proficient,” Vegyn teased, referring to the structure he can be seen building in Endless. “And that’s the thing: I can do more, and there’s more to come …” Ocean said.
Unbound by the confines of a corporate label and with a powerful tech company in Apple serving as his steward, Ocean has all the room to stretch his legs out and try out any number of new things. If we are to believe Sunday night’s preview, he seems ready to graduate from carpentry to filmmaking.