It’s been years since Frank Ocean has released any new music—three years, to be exact, since his last single “Dear April” and seven years since his albums Endless and Blonde. That means people are really and truly desperate for news that they’re going to get a new creation from their fave (Rihanna fans can relate). A new BMW ad seems to know just how eager devotees are for a sign, any sign that Ocean has been working on something.
In a video shared yesterday by BMW and widely speculated on since, the car company panned down from a “Welcome to Coachella” sign to show an orange BMW E30 M3, a clear nod to Ocean: it’s the same car that appeared on the cover for the singer’s first mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra. Now, this video might be a nod to the fact that Ocean is performing this weekend at Coachella and nothing more, but fans were quick to try and read into the cryptically short video and the oddly secretive caption that accompanied it.
“The past meets the future this week,” BMW wrote on Instagram. “As far as what comes next, we’ll let you guys prophesy.”
While this video on its own would seem only to hint at Ocean’s Coachella performance and what it might include—like, for some reason, the vehicle itself, or just the inclusion of Nostalgia, Ultra tracks in his setlist—the video’s hint toward “the future” has been tied to a January release of new merchandise from Ocean’s brand Blonded. Earlier this year, the company sold two posters that each contain half of a written blurb on the back, pieced together by Frank Ocean archive Twitter account @blonded.blog and shared widely for interpretation on what the message might mean.
“Back sides of the posters from the recent Blonded merch sale tell a narrative that’s as close to an album announcement as we’ll ever get from Frank Ocean,” the account tweeted at the time.
The posters themselves describe a 2019 photo series shot by Blonded starring Succession‘s Jeremy Strong, among others, the plot of which includes the “Recording Artist [attempting] to explain to the major music label the singles distribution model as opposed to the long-form album model.”
“The Recording Artist believes the latter to be outdated, and that releasing singles is more suited to modern consumption habits,” the poster’s message continues, still describing the fictional world of the photo series. The message then describes three live radio events that Blonded was planning at the time in conjunction with the photo series, noting its plans were curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The message ends with this: “The Recording Artist has since changed his mind about the singles model, and is again interested in more durational bodies of work.”
Given this deeply, deeply coded message from Blonded, some hardcore Ocean fans were already hoping that a new album was in the works from the artist, and BMW’s new video teasing an exciting future development this week has only stoked that frenzy. Whatever Ocean has planned next, we imagine we’ll find out more at his first Coachella on April 16.