From a distance, Mr. Ocean’s return came in fits and starts, with release plans hinted at, then abandoned.
What Mr. Ocean has achieved with the complexity of this rollout – as well as his ability to mold corporate motives to his benefit – is an almost complete reframing of his public narrative.
Over 300 pages long, it includes a T-shirt printed with Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms”; a photo spread of Kanye West picking up McDonald’s at a drive-through in a Lamborghini; another photo spread detailing what appear to be the color-use specifications in the studio of the artist Tom Sachs; and what look like internet search histories collected from Mr. Ocean and some of his collaborators.
Much of the magazine is given over to the eroticism of the automobile – t are photos of Mr. Ocean looking blissful around cars, a spread of racecar drivers deep in thought, a striking photo shoot of nude young Chinese men draped on and in a compact sedan.
In an essay at the beginning of the magazine, Mr. Ocean suggests his car fixation might be part of “a deep subconscious straight boy fantasy,” but then adds, “Consciously though, I don’t want straight – a little bent is good.”
Mr. Ocean announced on his Tumblr in 2012 that when he was 19 he fell in love with a man.
The magazine features both nude men and women, and t are small references to gender nonconformity throughout these works: a shot of Mr. Ocean wearing strong eyeliner in the “Nikes” video, and another in the middle of a car-based photo shoot in the magazine; or a sample of the drag icon Crystal LaBeija, taken from the documentary “The Queen,” on “Endless.” And most vividly, his album is called “Blonde,” but its cover reads “Blond,” alongside a photo of Mr. Ocean, his short hair dyed neon green – the feminine, the masculine, the none of the above.
On iTunes, you can only buy “Blonde” as a whole, conveniently both a comment on its unity and also a clear commercial tactic – with four years in the shadows, Mr. Ocean has perfected the navigation of the intersection of corporate and emotional concerns.