A Breakdown: All 69 People Who Worked on Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’

By | 5 months ago
An absurdly detailed investigation into Frank's newly-unveiled 'Blonde' album credits.
2016-12-12-frank-ocean-blonde-full-credits

Frank Ocean’s Blonde has been a mystery to us as much as it has the people who worked on it. It’s been almost four months since the album arrived on Apple Music, but we still don’t know for sure know who did what and on which song. Aside from the obvious André 3000 appearance on “Solo (Reprise),” there’s been talk of features from the likes of Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Bon Iver, which either require highly trained ears to enjoy or a good nose for sniffing out what's bogus.

Well, the mysteries have finally been solved.

On Black Friday, Frank Ocean released physical versions of Blonde, which until now has only been available digitally. As CDs and vinyl slowly make their way to fans around the world, that means we’ve also got a look at the full, long-awaited list of album credits. The Blonde liner notes clear up the confusion over a number of guest features (yes, that’s Beyoncé on “Pink + White,” but no, Kendrick isn’t on “Skyline To”) while revealing just as many surprises (like Kanye West co-writing “White Ferrari”).

In total, there are 69 people credited on Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Without further ado, let’s break them all down.


Adriana Zoppo

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist and violist who plays with the Los Angeles Baroque Players and Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Alex Glannascoli

“Self Control,” “White Ferrari”

Better known as Alex G, a Pennsylvania native and “lo-fi indie guy” who has over a dozen projects on Bandcamp and is label mates with Blood Orange and Arctic Monkeys. Alex plays guitar on “Self Control” and “White Ferrari,” as well as Frank’s Endless album.

Alisha Bauer

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional cellist who also teaches at Wilshire Elementary School and Santa Monica Academy of Music. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Amber Coffman

“Nikes”

Vocalist and guitarist in the critically acclaimed band Dirty Projectors. As a solo artist, she’s worked with J. Cole (“She Knows”), Snoop Lion (“No Regrets”) and Major Lazer (“Get Free”), and recently announced her debut album. Amber sings backing vocals on “Nikes.”

André Benjamin

“Solo (Reprise)”

André 3000 aka 3 Stacks aka Top Five Dead or Alive. We're all familiar with his contribution. Whaddup, Drake?

Andy Gill

“Futura Free”

Guitarist and producer in the English post-punk band Gang of Four, whose 1979 single “Anthrax” is sampled on “Futura Free.” Frank reached out to Gill last November to ask for permission to sample the song. “Most bands just take Gang of Four ideas and dress them up a little and call them their own!” he said. “But I think Frank Ocean is great and I was aware that he was a big fan of Gang of Four.”

Austin Feinstein

“Self Control”

The 18-year-old frontman of the LA underground band Slow Hollows. Somewhat of an Odd Future favorite, Austin plays guitar on “Self Control” and appeared on Tyler, The Creator’s Cherry Bomb album (“Blow My Load,” “2 Seater” and the video version of “Perfect”).

Burt Bacharach

“Close to You”

One of the most successful songwriters of all time. Alongside Hal David, Bacharach wrote over 20 Billboard hits for Dionne Warwick in the ‘60s, as well as for musical greats like The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, and Neil Diamond. “Close to You” samples Stevie Wonder’s talkbox cover of “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” which was written by Bacharach and David and turned into a hit by The Carpenters in 1970.

Benjamin Wright

“Pink + White”

A legendary musical director who’s worked with everyone from Michael Jackson and Barry White to OutKast and Justin Timberlake. Wright provides that oh-so-sweet string arrangement on “Pink + White” alongside Jon Brion.

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter

“Pink + White”

Lemonade salesperson of the year. Provides backing vocals on “Pink + White" (her airy vocals appear during the song's outro).

Buddy Ross

“Be Yourself,” “Nights,” “Pretty Sweet,” “Facebook Story,” “Close to You,” “White Ferrari,” “Futura Free”

Frank’s touring keyboardist who produced the hypnotic beat used on “Be Yourself,” “Facebook Story” and “Futura Free.” He’s also responsible for the piano intro on “Godspeed,” the synth on the first half of “Nights,” the bass on “Pretty Sweet,” the synth pad on the first half of “White Ferrari,” and many of the musical elements on “Close to You.”

Charlie Bisharat

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A GRAMMY-winning violinist who’s worked with everyone from Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey to Roy Orbison and The Rolling Stones. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Christopher Breaux

Songs 1–17

Aka Frank Ocean. You might have heard of him.

Christophe Chassol

“Skyline To”

French pianist and film composer who is known for speech harmonizing (turning a piece of dialogue into a song itself—like this). After Diplo put him onto his work, Frank drafted in Chassol to work on Blonde. “I did a lot of things: synthesisers, string arrangements, voices, bass,” he said. “We spent time at nights working, playing, drumming, discussing. We talked about music, art, nations, culture, blackness, so many things…It brought me to tears at some points.” Chassol is officially credited as a songwriter, arranger, and keyboardist on “Skyline To.”

Chris Woods

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

Professional violinist, comedian and “lucid life coach.” Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Crystal Alforque

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist who played with Rihanna at the 2014 Clara Lionel Foundation Diamond Ball. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Daphne Chen

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist who plays in The Section Quartet and previously worked on Kanye West’s Late Registration and Graduation. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Dave Allen

“Futura Free”

Founding member and former guitarist of Gang of Four. These days, he works in Artist Relations at Apple Music. Credited as a songwriter on “Future Free” due to the sample of Gang of Four’s “Anthrax.”

Elliott Smith

“Seigfried”

Oscar-nominated singer/songwriter and a master of melancholy who committed suicide in 2003 after a long battle with depression and drug addiction. “Seigfried” borrows a line from Smith’s “A Fond Farewell” (“This is not my life, it’s just a fond farewell to a friend”), off his posthumous album From a Basement on the Hill.

Eric Caudieux

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

Producer, engineer, and musician who’s best known for his work with Joe Satriani. Provides the strings on “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” alongside Greg Keller.

Eric Gorfain

Professional violinist, arranger and concert master who is also a member of The Section Quartet alongside Daphne Chen. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Evan Clark

“Futura Free”

One of Frank’s friends and interview subjects featured on “Futura Free.” Fellow car enthusiast.

 

in Iceland the sun does not set

A photo posted by Evan Clark (@eeevan) on

Fish

“Ivy”

Aka Derek William Dick, a Scottish singer-songwriter and actor who fronted the neo-prog rock band Marillion in the ’80s before going solo. Provides the retro-sounding guitar work on “Ivy.”

Francis Starlite

“Close to You”

The vocoder-friendly frontman of Chance The Rapper’s favorite band, Francis and The Lights, who dropped their debut album Farewell, Starlite! in September. Francis is credited as a songwriter, producer, arranger and vocoder vocalist on “Close to You.”

Gina Kronstadt

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

Professional violinist, multi-instrumentalist and solo artist, who released her debut album Come Over in 2013. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Ginger Murphy

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional cellist who’s performed with Barry Manilow, Josh Groban, and the Dakah Hip Hop Orchestra. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Greg Keller

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

Not a lot of information on this guy, but we do know he provides the strings on “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” alongside Eric Caudieux.

Hal David

“Close to You”

Accomplished songwriter who wrote countless hits for the likes of Dionne Warwick, The Carpenters and Dusty Springfield alongside Burt Bacharach. After enjoying an almost 40-year career in music and earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, David died of a stroke in 2012 at the age of 91. Credited as a songwriter on “Close to You” due to the sample of Steve Wonder’s “(They Long to Be) Close to You” performance.

Hugo Burnham

“Futura Free”

Founding member and drummer of Gang of Four. After the band’s split, Burham worked in music management and A&R. These days, he’s an Associate Professor at the New England Institute of Art in Boston. Credited as a songwriter on “Future Free” due to the sample of Gang of Four’s “Anthrax.”

Ibrahim Hariri

“Futura Free”

One of Frank’s friends and interview subjects featured on “Futura Free.” 

James Blake

“Solo,” “Skyline To,” “Solo (Reprise),” “Godspeed”

London-born singer, songwriter, and producer who has one of the most distinct voices in music today. Blake dropped his self-titled debut in 2011, earned mainstream recognition with “Retrograde” in 2013, and released his third album The Colour In Anything earlier this year. Blake was thought to have appeared on “White Ferrari,” but actually co-produced and co-arranged a number of other songs on Blonde.

Jazmine Sullivan

“Solo”

Philly-born songstress who enjoyed success as both a gifted songwriter and raspy-voiced solo artist. Sullivan retired from music in 2011 before making her comeback with Reality Show four years later. She provided the soothing backing vocals on “Solo” (you can hear her at the 1:40 and 3:05 marks) as well as several songs on Frank’s Endless album (“Alabama,” “Wither,” “Hublots” and “Rushes”).

Joe Thornalley

“Nights,” “Close to You”

Aka Vegyn, a London-based electronic producer who got his break on James Blake’s BBC Radio 1 show and produced Frank’s Endless cut “Higgs,” which was also used in his Calvin Klein ad. Thornalley is credited as a producer, arranger, and drum programmer on “Nights,” as well as a drum programmer on “Close to You.”

Jon Brion

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Nights,” “Solo (Reprise),” “Pretty Sweet,” “White Ferrari”

Revered composer and producer best known in hip-hop circles for adding his delicate touch to Kanye West’s orchestral masterpiece Late Registration. Brion has also scored films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Step Brothers, and released his debut album Meaningless in 2001. He’s featured pretty heavily on Blonde, picking up credits as a songwriter, producer, keyboardist, arranger and drum programmer on several album cuts.

Jon King

“Futura Free”

Founding member and lead singer of Gang of Four. Credited as a songwriter on “Future Free” due to the sample of Gang of Four’s “Anthrax.” King was praised for his progressive, politically charged lyricism and also wrote music for films like The Karate Kid and The Manchurian Candidate. These days, he’s a senior executive at Vice Media Group. Credited as a songwriter on “Future Free” due to the sample of Gang of Four’s “Anthrax.”

John Krovoza

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional cellist who’s also worked on OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Kanye West’s Graduation and Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

John Lennon

“White Ferrari”

The guy from The Beatles, who Frank named as one of the biggest inspirations behind Blonde. Lennon is credited as a songwriter on “White Ferrari” due to the interpolation of The Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere” (“Spending each day of the year”).

Jonny Greenwood

“Seigfried”

Guitarist and keyboardist in Radiohead. Greenwood is credited with string arrangement on “Seigfried,” as well as string orchestration of Frank’s Endless cover of The Isley Brothers’ “At Your Best (You Are Love).”

Kanye West

“White Ferrari”

No introduction necessary. Kanye was listed as an “album contributor” in Frank’s Boys Don’t Cry magazine, although it was unclear what his contribution was exactly. Turns out he co-wrote “White Ferrari” (which doesn’t necessarily mean he was scribbling down lyrics at Frank’s side). If you listen closely, you can hear Kanye come in with a faint moan at 2:50.

Katie Sloan

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

Professional violinist and a member of the Sonus Quartet. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Kim Burrell

“Godspeed”

Influential gospel singer and senior pastor who’s also collaborated with Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly and Missy Elliott. Burrell lends her soul-soaked vocals to “Godspeed,” closing out the song by singing, “I will always love you / Until the time we die.”

Leah Katz

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violist who’s also recorded with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Lisa Dondlinger

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist who’s contributed to the soundtracks for Passengers, Halo Wars 2 and Netflix’s Luke Cage. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Malay Ho

“Nikes,” “Skyline To,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet,” “White Ferrari,” “Seigfried,” “Godspeed,” “Futura Free”

Aka Malay, a GRAMMY-winning producer who collaborated with 50 Cent, John Legend and Big Boi (“Feel Me” still goes) before joining Frank’s inner circle and producing the bulk of Channel Orange. He’s also one of the most prominent names on the Blonde liner notes, credited as a producer, arranger, programmer, guitarist and keyboardist on almost half the album.

 

Grammy season, we need some more of these! #tbt#frankocean#2015

A photo posted by Malay (@malayho) on

Marcy Vaj

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist who’s also contributed to OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Marisa Kuney

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist and founder of the Quimby Trio who once spent a year as the acting string leader for Kanye West. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Mars 1500

“Solo,” “Godspeed”

Aka Mars aka Lamar Edwards, a member of the West Coast creative collective 1500 or Nothin', who’ve produced for everyone from Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole to Travis Scott and T.I. Mars plays piano, drums, guitar and percussion, and has three solo projects to his name. Alongside James Blake, he’s credited as a keyboardist on “Solo” and “Godspeed.”

Michael Uzowuru

“Nights”

A West Coast producer who is best known for his work with Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis, Vic Mensa and Vince Staples, the latter of whom he dropped the Winter In Prague project with in 2012. Uzi lent his songwriting, production and drum programming talents to “Nights.”

Mikey Alfred

“Futura Free”

Owner and founder of the LA skate crew, Illegal Civilization. When he isn’t skating or selling DVDs, you might catch him hanging out with Tyler, The Creator or Steve Lacy. Alfred is the guy who’s doing the interviewing on “Futura Free.”

Nabil Hariri

“Futura Free”

One of Frank’s friends and interview subjects featured on “Futura Free.”

Na-Kel Smith

Pro skater, Odd Future affiliate and occasional Earl Sweatshirt collaborator. Another subject interviewed on “Futura Free.”

Neel Hammond

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist and member of the Sonus Quartet who’s worked on Ty Dolla $ign’s Free TC, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and John Legend’s Evolver. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Om’Mas Keith

“Nikes,” “Ivy,” “Skyline To,” “Pretty Sweet,” “White Ferrari,” “Godspeed,” “Futura Free”

O.G. music producer and one-third of Sa-Ra, who’s worked with Jay Z, Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Vic Mensa, Mobb Deep and more. Keith was introduced to Odd Future early on through Michael Uzowuru and ended up co-producing Channel Orange’s “Pyramids.” On Blonde, he helped produce album highlights like “Nikes,” “Ivy” and “White Ferrari.” There's a great conversation between Frank and Om'Mas in the Boys Don't Cry magazine, too.

Paul McCartney

“White Ferrari”

White Beatle. Like Lennon, McCartney is credited as a songwriter on “White Ferrari” due to the interpolation of The Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere."

Pharrell Williams

“Pink + White”

Aka Skateboard P aka The Ice Cream Man aka ageless nerd from the planet Neptune. One of Frank’s creative heroes, Pharrell co-wrote and co-produced Channel Orange’s “Sweet Life.” In similar fashion, Pharrell co-wrote and co-produced Blonde’s “Pink + White,” laying down keyboards, bass and drum programming.

 

Pink + White #frankocean

A photo posted by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on

Rodney Wirtz

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist who’s previously collaborated with the likes of Daft Punk, Taylor Swift and R.E.M. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Rostam Batmanglij

“Ivy,” "Seigfried"

A former member of Vampire Weekend and current member of two bands: Discovery, alongside Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles, and Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, alongside The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser. As a songwriter and producer, Batmanglij has collaborated with Kid Cudi, Santigold, and Solange. He co-produced and arranged “Ivy” while laying down keyboards on “Seigfried,” which also samples an “untitled” (and seemingly unknown) song by Rostam.

Ryan Moore

Aka Ryan Breaux, Frank’s little brother and the main interview subject from “Future Free.” "MY INTERVIEW IS ON THE ALBUM OHMGMDJSHCJAJDHAHHSH I WAS LIKE 11 MY VOICE WAS SO HIGH," he tweeted after hearing the album.

Sage Elsessler

"Futura Free"

Another pro skater and friend of Frank’s who gets interviewed on “Future Free” (the kid who “plays soccer and goes to school”).

Sebastian Akchote

“Facebook Story,” “White Ferrari,” “Godspeed”

Better known as SebastiAn, Akchote is a French musician and DJ signed to Ed Banger Records, the label behind Justice. He helped with programming on “White Ferrari,” and strings and arrangement on “Godspeed,” but is best known for narrating “Facebook Story.” “Yes, it’s me and it’s a true story,” he told Pitchfork. “I discovered that Frank was recording the conversations sometimes when something seemed interesting to him, but I didn’t know when and why exactly.”

Simon Huber

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional cellist who’s recorded with acts as diverse as Lynyrd Skynyrd and *NSYNC’s JC Chasez. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Songa Lee

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist who’s worked with accomplished film composers like John Williams, Randy Newman and Thomas Newman, and is currently prepping her debut solo album. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Spaceman

“Nights”

Aka Billy Patterson, an older, enigmatic guitarist from New Jersey who’s played with greats from every genre and generation—from Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman to Boogie Down Productions and Alicia Keys. Spaceman is definitely an appropriate name as he’s known to push the boundaries of what a guitar can do (“I can do it sounding like it’s playing backward when it’s forward,” he says). His choppy guitar work can be heard during the first half of “Nights,” as well as a number of other Blonde cuts which, for some reason, he isn’t listed on.

Stefan Smith

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violist and a member of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Stefanie Fife

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional cellist who played in the cello sections for film composers like Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman before releasing her debut solo album Bare Bones Cello via Warner Music/Chappell. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Stevie Wonder

“Close to You”

Y’all know the name. Stevie Wonder was not only a big inspiration for Channel Orange, but for Blonde’s “Close to You.” The song samples Stevie Wonder’s talkbox cover of The Carpenters’ “(They Long to Be) Close to You”—written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David—from The David Frost Show in 1972, which Frank pulled from the YouTube video below.

Terry Glenny

“Pink + White,” “Self Control,” “Pretty Sweet”

A professional violinist who’s known for reworking classic rock songs with an electric five-string violin. Part of the large musical ensemble that makes “Pink + White,” “Self Control” and “Pretty Sweet” sound so good.

Tyler Okonma

“Skyline To”

Aka Tyler, The Creator aka (former) Odd Future ringleader aka Frank Ocean fan boy. Despite being listed as a contributor to “Pink + White” on the ASCAP database, it turns out Tyler only provided drum programming on “Skyline To” (wait, that song has drums?).

Yung Lean

"Godspeed"

Swedish rapper, Sad Boys skipper and part-time punk rocker. The internet seemed convinced Yung Lean was the guy singing “keep a place for me” on “Self Control,” but—plot twist!—it turns out he only recorded backing vocals alongside Kim Burrell on “Godspeed.” Wait, Yung Lean's on "Godspeed"? I definitely need to listen to Blonde again (gladly).

***

By Andy James. You can follow him on Twitter.

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