Record sleeves of the year #10: Frank Ocean, Blond

Frank Ocean, Blond

On August 19, Frank Ocean dropped a 45-minute visual album and a beautiful video for the track Nikes directed by Tyrone Lebon. The following day, he released his much-anticipated second album Blond (also referred to as Blonde), giving copies away for free at pop-up stores in London, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The album was given out with a magazine titled Boys Don’t Cry, which featured a poem by Kanye West, contributions from Wolfgang Tillmans, Lebon, Tom Sachs and Viviane Sassen and typography from London studio Zak Group.

Frank Ocean, Blond
Frank Ocean, Blond

The cover of Blond features a compelling image shot by Tillmans – one that is just as striking in digital format as it is on a record sleeve. (The album was released on vinyl through XL for Black Friday).

Tillmans shot the image for the tenth anniversary issue of Fantastic Man – speaking to Pitchfork, he said Ocean drove to Berlin to meet him and the pair went clubbing at legendary nightclub Berghain. Just a couple of weeks after the shoot, however, the musician sent a letter barring Fantastic Man from using the pictures. “It was a huge disappointment and very unfair, but we stayed in touch and he later wanted to use images for his book to accompany a future album,” Tillmans told Pitchfork.

Blond vinyl, released through XL on Black Friday
Blond vinyl, released through XL on Black Friday

It’s a suitably enigmatic image for one of music’s most elusive artists. The album was one of the most talked about of the year – not just because of the music but also its unusual release and the wealth of visual creative produced around it.

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