Frank Ocean Can Fly
Frank Ocean did not want to ride in my rented Ford Fusion; that much was clear. After I parked the car, he met me outside his modernist apartment building in Los Angeles and led me to the garage where he rents three parking spots for three different BMWs. He was dressed casually — gray hoodie, jeans, high-top Vans with red laces, baseball cap — and he jumped lightly from the curb to the parking blocks as we walked toward his late-model blue BMW M3. Ocean no longer had driving privileges as a result of some recent violations, on top of which he was cited for marijuana possession a few weeks earlier. “You can drive,” he said, though I could tell that it was killing him.
At our first official interview earlier in the day, Ocean spent the first five minutes staring down at his phone. He didn’t so much as look up at me, as I made small talk with his managers and awaited his attention. Eventually he said, “Here’s what I think about music and journalism: The most important thing is to just press play.” He followed that with, “All in all, I just don’t trust journalists — and I don’t think it’s a good practice for me to trust journalists.” But he did promise to let me do my job, so there we were. I managed to get the car in gear and out of the garage, but as we pulled onto Vine, I took a dip too quickly. There was an ominous crunch as the front end scraped on the roadway, and Ocean winced. In my mind I booked the next red-eye home. But the formality and distance that characterized our lunch that day had given way to a softer, more relaxed mood. “Don’t worry about it, bro,” Ocean said with a smile, and we were off.
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