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Hi.

Welcome to Rob Hakimian’s website, collecting together the best of his writing from over the years.

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Frank Ocean - Blonde

[Boys Don't Cry]

Frank Ocean’s last album, 2012’s Channel ORANGE, was a smash hit world-fame courting album. It affected everyone, from the rabid young Odd Future fanbase, to snooty critics, to whiteboys like me. Whether it was the musicality, the groove, the cutting lyricism or just that fucking voice, something hooked everyone to it. But beneath it all was Frank, a fragile mind, recently come out, still learning to deal with fame and fortune. So 4 years later, and after years of speculation he finally drops 2 albums, Endless, a bonus album full of great little bits, and Blonde, the official follow up to the mammoth Channel ORANGE.

So how does Ocean open an album with unbelievable amounts of anticipation and expectation? Pitch-shifting that remarkable voice into a frail quaver, “these bitches want Nikes,” a casual remark towards consumerism, then continues on into his normal voice to discuss Trayvon Martin, being plagued by demons, and handing over the last verse to KOHH, who raps in Japanese. Are the actions of a man who is extremely confident or extremely lost? The answer is both, because throughout Ocean never presents anything but his honest self, thoughts and feelings. It results in an album that is not as immediate nor as hook-filled as Channel ORANGE, but one that reads like a diary of his trials and triumphs of the last 4 years of stratospheric fame.

Second track “Ivy” is a perfect example of what makes Blonde so great. Over simplistic Alex G watery guitars, Frank divulges about an ex: “I thought I was dreaming when you said you loved me,” he starts, and then tracks the dissolution to the point where he admits “it’s quite alright to hate me now,” and then counters this with the joyous exclamation “we still know the feeling deep down is good!” I could go through every lyric on the album and it would somehow show you Frank’s frankness (sorry) towards his audience. Highlights include the lonely hedonism of “Solo” (“two grams when the sun rise, smoking good rolling solo”); the internet date of the glitchy and intimate “Good Guy” (“you text nothing like you look / here’s to the gay bay you took me to”); indulgent escapism of “Nights” (“Shut the fuck up I don’t want your conversation / rolling marijuana that’s a cheap vacation”); considerations of the results of his success in the soul-searching “Seigried” (“Maybe I’m a fool to settle for a place with nice views / Maybe I should move, settle down with two kids and a swimming pool”).

I could literally go on for so long. Some people will obviously miss the swagger of his previous output, but the soul of his music – to which his voice is so perfectly attuned – has never been more tangible. The honesty of the longing, existentialism, egoism and fears make it seem like Frank is right there in the room, singing to just you from his personal memories, which you feel special to be privy to. You can’t help but feel a swoon of love when he addresses his mother (and his fans) on the final track:

“Now I’m making 400, 600, 800k momma,

To stand on my feet momma,

Play these songs, it’s therapy momma,

I should be paying them,

I should be paying y’all, honest to God.”

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Below you can see my top 50 albums of the year list.

 

50| Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - EARS
49| Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits
48| Daughter - Not To Disappear
47| The Avalanches - Wildflower
46| Beyonce - Lemonade
45| Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
44| Gold Panda - Good Luck and Do Your Best
43| James Blake - The Colour In Anything
42| Lambchop - FLOTUS
41| Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger
40| Nothing - Tired Of Tomorrow
39| Camp Cope - Camp Cope
38| Cymbals Eat Guitars - Pretty Years
37| Aphex Twin - Cheetah EP
36| Mary Lattimore - At The Dam
35| Woods - City Sun Eater In The River Of Light
34| White Lung - Paradise
33| Solange - A Seat At The Table
32| Wild Beasts - Boy King
31| Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
30| Marissa Nadler - Strangers
29| Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat To Earth
28| Kevin Morby - Singing Saw
27| Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.
26| Whitney - Light Upon The Lake
25| Kedr Livanskiy - January Sun
24| Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing
23| Steve Gunn - Eyes On The Lines
22| Pantha du Prince - The Triad
21| Cass McCombs - Mangy Love
20| Cavern of Anti-Matter - void beats/invocation trex
19| Olga Bell - Tempo
18| Chairlift - Moth
17| Mitski - Puberty 2
16| Anderson .Paak - Malibu
15| Underworld - Barbara, Barbara we face a shining future
14| Xenia Rubinos - Black Terry Cat
13| Savages - Adore Life
12| DIIV - Is The Is Are
11| Frank Ocean - Blonde
10| Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch
09| MONEY - Suicide Songs
08| Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial
07| A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service
06| Nicolas Jaar - Sirens
05| Angel Olsen - My Woman
04| Parquet Courts - Human Performance
03| Preoccupations - Preoccupations
02| ANOHNI - Hopelessness
01| Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

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