Monday, May 23

Traffic Jams: Frank Ocean – ‘Provider’

Frank Ocean should be a Jalopnik staple. The artist’s music is pretty much a car lover’s catalogue, full of overt and hidden references to iconic cars spanning across many carmakers and subcultures. Hell, Frunk Ocean— as his cult on the net likes to call him — even released the definitive ode to bicycling twice in 2017.

Despite not having released a studio album since 2016, Frank has continued to make music for car lovers. The singles released on the Blonded segments, like this song “Provider,” have secured his mark on the soundtrack and the soul of this place.

In fact, if Jalopnik’s corner of Kinja ever developed sentience and somehow became the crater on the surface of the digital world from whence AI came, I’m certain this AI would pose no threat. It would simply be too busy figuring out how to time travel, so that it could travel to 1998 and make TRL requests of Frank Ocean’s music.

And we would tell it, “Oh, Jalopnik-bot! Frank Ocean’s music won’t exist until much later!” But the machine will shake its binary head and keep computing, desperate to visit the past and harass Carson Daly. Such would be its love for Frank Ocean.

Unlike the bot, I can’t listen to all of Frank’s music at once. So, I toggle between “Biking” and the song here often. In the spirit of keeping the car catalogue going, I chose “Provider’”: an ebullient song with soft-spoken synths under layers of vocals that open up to drum samples and a chorus that forces you to sing along.

Frank calls out the Chevy Astro by name, talks race stripe liveries and trophies earned in motorsport as a metaphor for our accomplishments. Brake lights and the colors they cast, which is another way of discussing tail light design, tidies up the verse. All of this set within allusions to music, film and natural blondes like Goku. It’s just is a great song to play when the road trip isn’t over yet, and the album Blond has run through in its entirety.

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