Frank Ocean's "Nikes" is a glittery meditation on love and loss
After a drought, a deluge: That’s how Frank Ocean fans are feeling after the super-secretive artist dropped his visual album Endless on Thursday/early Friday, only to announce that that wasn’t actually his Channel Orange follow-up and that another album was forthcoming.
Well, before its proper release, he’s rightly reassured the world that this album does in fact exist after all these years with a new song and video, “Nikes.”
For those of you who aren’t on Apple Music: Tough luck, as the rest of the album (which isn’t being called Boy’s Don’t Cry) will be dropping there too. But nodding to his former album title, the song begins with a reference to this post, with an artificially lower pitched version of his voice intoning, “I’ve got two versions, I’ve got twoooo versions” — which we now know was, perhaps, a reference to the fact that he’s got two albums out.
What follows afterward is an amalgam of queer imagery, laced throughout with more variations of Ocean’s manipulated voice paying homage to recent fallen icons: A$AP Yams, Pimp C, and Trayvon Martin. Martin’s shadow hangs heaviest over the video, as Ocean (or an associate) dons a hoodie before self-immolating.
There’s care taken to represent the human body in all of its forms and its pleasures. Sure, that means a lot of nudity, but its “gratuitous” shots come from people of all genders. And sprinkled throughout are some beautiful uses of glitter as a highlight.
Ocean himself sports some gorgeous beauty looks throughout the video:
The song’s lyrics seem like a pointed critique on ownership, on monogamy, groupie culture, and privacy amidst blinding fame, but it’s too early to really tell how the song fits in with whatever else he’s got cooking up. And of course, before the word became synonymous with shoes, Nike was the Greek goddess of victory — and with Endless and now this, it seems Ocean has triumphed again.