When Frank Ocean dropped “Chanel” last month at the end of his Beats 1 blonded Radio show, we were elated. The duality of Ocean’s lyrics, the cadence of the mood, and his vulnerable yet observant delivery throughout “Chanel” was absolute proof that he’s only getting better. This past Friday, Ocean previewed his new song “Biking”. The trailer primarily features lyrics by Tyler, the Creator and various clips, one of which showed Ocean having a moment of release in front of his piano. Then, Ocean debuted “Biking” at the end of Friday’s blonded Radio.
“Biking” comes to us at a time when we aren’t certain of what Frank Ocean is planning to do next. Do two singles signify another record just months after the release of Blonde? Or will he be releasing singles exclusively through blonded Radio? The new song features Tyler, the Creator and Jay-Z, the latter of which makes “Biking” one of the best surprises of the year, even in a year when Drake’s More Life is ever present and Kendrick Lamar’s new album on the horizon.
The track opens up with Jay-Z against a sparse piano melody and subdued sounds that—by the time Frank Ocean comes in—gather the perfect amount of energy. Ocean’s multi-layered vocal treatment is something we’ve seen in several of his songs, but this time it is laden over an acoustic guitar-driven beat. It takes no time at all for us to vibe with the current of “Biking”. By the time Tyler, the Creator comes in, we are dedicated to this ride, to cruising alongside these longtime friends and collaborators, to feeling both excited and fearful for the song’s end.
Frank Ocean’s conclusion to “Biking” is explosive. It culminates in a moment that feels both personal and universal, a catharsis that is joyful and hard-earned. Perhaps it’s how one would feel after riding down a steep road—a road that is dangerous and trafficked—only to arrive at the bottom of the hill with your life and machine in tact. Frank Ocean leaves us thinking that he is very grateful to be alive and making music right now. And “Biking” is the song that invites us into this particular happiness, fear, and zeal.
Check out “Biking”—the latest offering from Frank Ocean feat. Jay-Z and Tyler, the Creator—below: