Frank Ocean Delivers in “DHL”

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Frank Ocean, the 31-year-old R&B mogul, returns from nearly a year’s silence in his new track “DHL.” Due to its length–just shy of a whopping five minutes–casual listeners will most likely not find the track on the radio waves. But Ocean fans run deep, and now “DHL” is popping up in any and every hip streaming playlist, from rap to lo-fi. 

Produced by Ocean and EDM artist Boys Noize, the entire track melts and spreads, a hot knife to butter. Ocean’s voice never raises over the pit of a low warble, providing a hollowed-out path through the seemingly unending canyon of trance drums, shrill melodies, and rumbling piano chords. It’s a sleepy tune, but it’s not boring; listening feels like trying to recall a dream that already slipped away, making the track endlessly re-playable.

Longtime fans will surely be divided on Ocean’s vocals, as he predominantly raps on the track. Diehards of the “FOF,” Frank Ocean Falsetto, won’t find it here. “DHL” nods back to 2012 Ocean, when, Starbucks cup in hand, he lined up and broke down a series of memorable bars on Odd Future’s “Oldie.” Completing the allusion, Ocean spends the majority of “DHL” checking off bragging rights: drinking Starbucks, burning money in the studio, and having day-long sex with unnamed partners.

“DHL” is a syrupy, time-warped, Odd Future-esque rap track that Pitchfork described as a “warmup”  (https://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/frank-ocean-dhl/). Falsetto finder or hip-hop head, take four and a half minutes today to beat the chill with an Ocean that always seems to be heating up.

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