Print isn’t dead, and it has one of the hippest celebrities in the world on its side.
After several years in the works, recording artist and producer Frank Ocean released a raft of new music last week including a visual album, “Endless,” and an audio album, “Blond,” which is being packaged with a special popup magazine called “Boys Don’t Cry.”
The publication is a premium “bookazine,” printed on glossy, heavy stock paper, with a CD of the album mounted in the centerfold. A different version of the album, titled “Blonde” (with an “e”) is also being released on Apple Music.
The magazine, covered in an opaque plastic wrapper at four popup newsstand locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and London, went on sale Friday. It contains a variety of photographic and text contributions by peers and collaborators on the albums.
They include Kanye West, who wrote a poem about McDonald’s; German fine art photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, who also contributed a techno track to the album; and Ocean himself, who wrote a meditative essay about images and travel.
The release of “Boys Don’t Cry” was announced on Ocean’s Web site of the same name, shortly after the debut of the first music video for the single “Nikes.” According to Spin, the Chicago venue was an ordinary magazine newsstand with all the regular stock removed, with lines around the block.
Ocean will eventually release a digital version of the “Boys Don’t Cry,” but given the limited number of originals, it’s no surprise prices for print versions are soaring online. Some unopened copies command up to $1,000 on Ebay.
The decision to publish a long-form print product, along with the music, is something of a throwback to the glory days of CD liner notes in the 1990s, which often aspired (and sometimes attained) the status of art and literature by themselves.
For the truly hip, famous contributors were de rigeur. Back in 1996, the band Lotion released the “Nobody’s Cool” album with liner notes famously penned by the reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon.