Frank Ocean. Singer, songwriter, magazine editor, underwear model.
And now, perhaps, novelist.
While fans lose their minds over whether the mysterious R&B singer's long-anticipated second album might, possibly, just maybe be released in July, he is providing a peek into his relationship with music, boxer briefs—and more subtly, long-form fiction writing—in a new Calvin Klein campaign.
A minute-long spot, promoting CK's fall clothing line, opens on a '90s-style talk-show set, where Ocean is a guest. It then shifts—with a shot of a shirtless blonde model sandwiched in a burst of static—to a surreal pink pastel room, where Ocean, barefoot in a charcoal suit and white shirt, defies the laws of physics, playing with a ball that moves impossibly and performing a casual, free-standing lean of which Michael Jackson would be proud.
Ocean's voiceover, meanwhile, riffs on the addictive properties of being a musician: "If you start a habit and you keep it up for four or five weeks, then you stop and feel like you're missing something in your day, that's what music is for me," he says. "It feels like a necessary act."
The off-kilter visuals evoke bits of Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, or perhaps David Lynch. Ocean's musings—which also include a lyrical couplet, and reflections on the relationship between narrative and fantasy in his work, while he strokes his stomach, and CK elastic waistband—contribute to the thick atmosphere of the work, deftly revealing just enough to increase the mystique around the artist, and by extension, the brand.
There's even a suggestion, hidden in the campaign site's code and posted to reddit, that while publishing a magazine and "continuing to perfect" his next album, Ocean has also been working on a novel.
That hint at a long-form literary work has observers buzzing. Another line in the veiled copy, suggesting Ocean will continue to work on his music for as long as it takes to satisfy his standards before releasing, has them wringing their hands—despite a cheeky image posted to the repeatedly delayed album's own site last week suggesting it could be coming this month (or perhaps in November).
While he might be masterful at stringing fans along, it seems likely the album is coming soon, one way or another—mostly because his marketing team would probably want to capitalize on the extraordinary visibility that comes with being the centerpiece of a major consumer advertising push like a global Calvin Klein campaign. This feels more like coordinated hype than false promise.
Regardless, one thing is for sure. A mass fashion label is still way cooler than even the coolest of fast-food burrito chains.
See a few more images from the campaign below.