Tough enough: Frank Ocean’s passion for cars

What is it about cars that make (some) men so obsessed with them? I see a car as a vehicle, as a means of transporting myself from point A to point B. But I’m a girl, so what do I know? It’s maddening how in the age of feminism, equality and gender-fluidity there are still things that are so strongly associated with masculinity. And the car is the ultimate example of that. Just look at pop culture: Fast and Furious, Transporter and similar franchises glorify not only cars but the tough guys driving them. Has there ever been a blockbuster hero who’s been unable to effortlessly lose the dozen bad guys chasing him in their black BMWs? Of course not! That’s one of the things that define his very hero status!

While Hollywood is not yet ready to let their studios produce an action movie not involving cool cars and tough guys, the music industry seems to have accepted male vulnerability a long time ago: from moody 80s icons like Robert Smith and Morrissey to a bunch of emo-rock stars of the 00s – we’re quite used to hearing men openly express their emotions, their moods and their grief. Some of the latest examples may include that silly dance Drake did in the video for his „Hotline Bling“ single and the new concept album about male sexuality by Wild Beasts. Another example here is Frank Ocean. But wait, I’m still not done talking about cars!

It’s impossible not to notice that Frank LOVES cars. Take the cover art of his debut mixtape Nostalgia, ULTRA; the lines „Taxi-driver/Be my shrink for the hour/Leave the meter running“ from „Bad Religion„; some pages of the new zine „Boys Don’t Cry“ that was released alongside his new album „Blonde“: the ones that featured photos of vintage cars, car logos shaved into the backs of the models‘ heads, Mr. Kanye West posing in a Lamborghini; other lines off „Futura Free„, „Remember when I had that Lexus/No?/Our friendship don’t go back far“… Can somebody ask this guy to do a car commercial already?! Can’t you get the hints?

But seriously, how does this car fixation even fit in the context of his stage persona? We all know Frank Ocean as this bi-sexual black guy with sad eyes and a beautiful soul voice. He writes about broken feelings and failed relationships. He doesn’t explain his music, he doesn’t apologize for being who he is, he doesn’t even care about rules anymore: Frank has been teasing his new material for a long time, surrounding it not only with rumours, but also with memes. He was signed to Def Jam but wanted to self-release the album, so in order to fulfill the contract he first offered his label Endless – something that was called a visual album but felt like a compilation of B-side recordings. Two days later he put out his new longplay, though it is still not quite the LP format we’re used to. Frank clearly lets you know that he’s an artist and he’s going to present his work how he wants it and when he wants it.

One of the tracks from „Blonde“ is named – surprise – „White Ferrari“. NME called it „a final open-top car ride as summer comes to an end“. Musically it does feel like the perfect ode to the final days of summer. Lyrically there is predictably nothing tough or macho about him driving the aforementioned car. Frank is still as sad and vulnerable as he has been throughout the album: this song pays a beautiful tribute to his significant other who is not with him anymore. He remembers how he would drop this person off in the neighborhood. The fact that the wheel he sits behind belongs to a Ferrari just happens to be there like it’s no big deal. Maybe it isn’t after all. What if he just likes luxury cars? Having broken so many rules he can as well do pop culture another favour by changing this one weird thing that bugs me so much: let the soft guys drive the cool cars. They deserve it.

Listen to „White Ferrari“ on Apple Music.

Written by Nastya Kazakova

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