Frank Ocean’s Pyramids: The Dark Cost of a Life of Excess

Frank Ocean’s Pyramids: The Dark Cost of a Life of Excess

Frank Ocean’s Pyramids is a defiantly dark, nearly eight-minute nightmare of excess, hallucinations and violence. After taking four shots of absinthe, Ocean shoots up a bar, stumbles through a strip club staffed exclusively with nubile female demons, rides a motorcycle while clearly under the influence, wanders through a desert and finally embarks on a vision quest with guitarist John Mayer. The Pyramids video is a series of stream-of-consciousness scenery, each captured with a deep sense of sadness. In many ways, it seems like a nightmare from which Ocean cannot awake.

Ocean’s latest music video is really a work of art, a dense work that stands out from the field by its mere existence. The cinematography and subtle use of special effects imbue it with both an unsettling edge and bleakness upon which few of his contemporaries would dare focus. There’s no shortage of genuinely striking scenes, and it does not shy away from the much larger question: “What’s the true cost of a life of excess?

Pyramids may be Ocean’s grandest statement to date; for an artist whose personal life has become the subject of such intense scrutiny, a video like this one is sure to lead to more questions. Does Ocean live the life he sings about? Is his existence really this dark and troubled? Should we be worried about him? It’s up to the viewers to provide the answers, since Ocean himself isn’t talking. Really, that’s what good art is supposed to do; it’s not supposed to be easy, or comfortable.

Frank Ocean’s Pyramids: The Dark Cost of a Life of Excess

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