For the past few months now, Frank Ocean’s basically been using his blonded show on Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio to flex. There’s “Lens” with Travis Scott. The excellent rework of “Slide on Me” that features a sprawling Young Thug. He partnered back up with Odd Future cohort Tyler, the Creator to drop “Biking.” And, of course, he kickstarted this whole thing with the sublimely tender “Chanel” (which is still prolly one of the best tracks of 2017 so far).
But none of those were direct flex moves, they were sort of “secondhand”: Ocean was showing he had the platform to just drop non-album singles that other would kill to have on a record.
“RAF” is a direct flex move. The beat’s a kind of spacey, burbling trap beat that’s basically everywhere now and gives its guests ample room to stretch out. A$AP actually manages to threaten someone while referencing an asthma inhaler, which is just the best. Quavo does a few swimming moves and dips. Lil Uzi Vert honestly raps like he’s got something to prove. A few more like this and rap conservatives might warm up to him a tad.
And then Frankie. Frankie. Frankie. Frankie. It’s not an original thought to say we need more of Frank Ocean rapping but damn it we need more of Frank Ocean rapping. An aqueous musical backing such as this is perfect for Ocean’s free-flowing associations where he can go from eating ravioli with former President Barack Obama to his mom hanging with Anna Wintour and it makes perfect sense. Of any kind of flex move here, that might be the best flex move: Talking what sounds like nonsense and having people take it seriously.
(If Frank Ocean is gonna stay dropping this kind of work, this is going to turn into a weekly thing.)