Frank Ocean performs onstage during the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Frank Ocean performs onstage during the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. - 
Listen To The Story

Earlier this week, Frank Ocean released 17 songs as part of a new album, Blonde – his first in four years. But in the style a la Beyonce and Lemonade, Ocean also released a visual album called “Endless”…oh, an also, an oversized art magazine called “Boys Don’t Cry.” Multiple pop-up shops appeared in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and London.

“As a critic, it’s much harder to practice criticism on something whose mere existence and I mean all of its existence means so much to so many people and whose arrival was so breathlessly anticipated” says Wesley Morris, culture critic at the New York Times.

On the mini-trend of artists releasing “visual albums,” Morris says “I just liked it better when they called them music videos.” He compares them to extended videos that the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson released in years past. “These aren’t new concepts. I think the immediacy, the suddenness of their arrival is what’s new.”

And don’t expect this to become the new industry norm just because Beyonce and Frank Ocean were able to pull off these surprise releases, says Morris.  “What real power to me is going to look like now is somebody who can just release a record and have it capture a nation’s attention. “

“You want to know how much power you’ve commanded or you can command in this version of your pop star self. “

About the album itself — Morris has already listened to it more than a dozen times but says, “I don’t have that kind of chills down my spine that I had with 'Channel Orange,'” Ocean’s first album.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal