A Detailed Analysis of Every Single Car Frank Ocean Names on His New Albums

From the Acura Legend to the white Ferrari
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There’s nothing new or original about a hip hop star in love with his cars. Kanye West and Jay-Z rap incessantly about their Lamborghinis, and Drake and YG ride one through the streets of West Hollywood in their latest music video. But Frank Ocean, a long-time gearhead with a self-described obsession with carsisn’t most hip hop stars — it’s hard to even classify his music within one genre — and there’s not one Lamborghini name-checked on either of his two new albums. There is, however, an Acura Legend, a Lexus, and a Honda — not exactly the whips you might imagine one of music’s biggest names would be referencing in his lyrics.

Nostalgia, ULTRA
Nostalgia, ULTRA

Don’t get us wrong: there are also Bugattis, Ferraris, and Porsches, but they’re often used as metaphors, images, or storytelling devices within the songs. For Ocean, cars aren’t just status symbols or functional vehicles that take you from point A to point B. Cars also serve as one of the most visceral, evocative forms of nostalgia — look no further than the cover of his 2011 mix tape Nostalgia, Ultra, which features an image of an orange BMW E30 M3 from the 1980s. In honor of Ocean’s two new albums, Endless and Blonde, which both dropped in a span of two days last week after years of anticipation and delays, we’ve broken down every car name-checked within the lyrics. When the make and model weren’t explicitly named, we used what we already know about Ocean to fill in the gaps.   


BMW X6 

White BMW X6
White BMW X6

Photo via Fingerhut/Shutterstock

The Song: Ivy”
The Album: Blonde
The Lyric: “I ain’t a kid no more / We’ll never be those kids again / We’d drive to Syd’s, had the X6 back then”
The Car: Some track the passage of time by remembering the jobs they worked, the apartments they lived in, and the friends they hung out with during any given year. Ocean does all of that in his lyrics — although he hasn’t had to work a normal job since 2009, according to the song “Futura Free” — but more than anything, he uses cars to remember the past and reflect on how far he’s come. On “Ivy,” the second track on Blonde, he reminisces about being a kid, which inevitably means evoking the whip he was driving. “We’d drive to Syd’s, had the X6 back then,” he sings. Syd Tha Kyd is Ocean’s former bandmate from Odd Future, which means Ocean would’ve been about 21 at the time, and if the lyrics “Safe in my rental like an armored truck back then” are any indication, he was still just renting the car. Just a handful of years and a massive debut studio album later, he’d be having vintage BMWs rebuilt to his custom specifications, according to a 2013 New York Times profile. Like he said: He ain’t a kid no more.

RELATED: The Strange But True Story of How the Hip-Hop Collective Odd Future Hit the Big Time


Acura Legend

First-generation Acura Legend
First-generation Acura Legend

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Song: “Nights”
The Album: Blonde
The Lyric: “In 1998 my family had that Acura / The Legend, kept at least six discs in the charger”
The Car: In 1998, Ocean would’ve been 10 years old and living with his mother in New Orleans, where, according to these lyrics, they drove a third-generation Acura Legend. There’s a slight possibility that Ocean could be referring to another model of Acura, christening it a “legend” (See: Acura Integra, below) but we’re going to assume he’s playing it straightforward here with the make and model. The real mystery is this: Which six discs were in the charger? Ocean once told GQs Amy Wallace (an editor-at-large for this magazine) that growing up, his mom listened to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Anita Baker, and Celine Dion while they were in the car together. So here’s our guess at those six discs: Mariah Carey’s Number 1’s (it came out in 1998), Whitney Houston’s My Love Is Your Love (also from 1998), Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love (1997), Anita Baker’s Rhythm of Love (1994) — there was a lot of love going on in the late ’90s — Prince’s 1984 classic Purple Rain (Ocean talked about being exposed to “The Beautiful Ones” off that album) and assuming he went down the Prince rabbit hole, let’s throw in his self-titled 1979 album for good measure.


White Ferrari

Ferrari 458 Challenge
Ferrari 458 Challenge

Photo via VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

The Song: “White Ferrari”
The Album: Blonde
The Lyric: “Your dilated eyes watch the clouds float / White Ferrari / Had a good time”
The Car: Like the Acura Legend and the X6, the white Ferrari is also used to channel a memory from the past. But unlike those cars, the Ferrari is a stand-in for something else. The dilated eyes (and the white color of the car) point to cocaine — you know, that highly-addictive stuff Ocean’s mom warned him not to use during the voicemail track on Blonde called “Be Yourself.” But Ocean was 16: “How was I supposed to know anything?” he sings, another indicator that he probably wasn’t driving a Ferrari at the time. The songs weaves in details about driving on the highways in Texas, where he stayed with family as a teenager after Hurricane Katrina ravaged his hometown of New Orleans, according to an interview he gave with Passion of the Weiss in 2011.


Bugatti

Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
Bugatti Veyron Super Sport

Photo via Max Earey / Shutterstock

The Song: “Futura Free”
The Album: Blonde
The Lyric: “Bugatti left some stretch marks on that freeway”
The Car: Ocean name-drops the Bugatti when he wants to talk about wealth, luxury, and excess, often to make a commentary about the way he’s living now versus the way he grew up. Like “Unity,” the other song that references a Bugatti, “Futura Free” is also about the division between his childhood and the new lavish lifestyle he can afford now. On the one hand, there’s the four-door Lexus he used to drive when he first moved out to L.A. (see below), and on the other, there’s the Bugatti that leaves stretch marks — STRETCH MARKS — on the freeway, which is also one of the most incredible images contained on an album in which nearly every lyric evokes a strong sense of time and place. The line works both ways: It might be a metaphor for sex, or it might just be one of the most original ways to describe a sports car leaving skid marks stretch marks on the asphalt.


Four-Door Lexus

Lexus ES 250
Lexus ES250

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

The Song: “Futura Free”
The Album: Blonde
The Lyric: “I only got one four door / Remember when I had that Lexus no / Our friendship don’t go back that far”
The Car: Here’s the four-door Lexus that appears in the same song as the Bugatti, above. Ocean uses it not just to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the past, but also to distinguish his long-term friends from back in the day from the newer ones that only know him as having a taste for Bugatti’s (see: above). Like “Ivy,” this song is also about paying tribute to the people who knew him way back when. “Remember when I had that Lexus?” he teases. “No, our friendship don’t go back that far.” But you know who did know him when he drove that Lexus? Tyler the Creator, his former bandmate from Odd Future (“Tyler slept on my sofa,” the next lyric goes). Ocean joined the L.A. hip hop collective around 2009 — which means this Lexus can’t be any newer than that. Just to be safe with our timeline, we’re going to go with the Lexus ES250, which debuted in 1989. Remember when? 


The Honda  

Honda Acura Integra
Honda Acura Integra

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Song: “Unity”
The Album: Endless
The Lyric: “It forever seems like time’s up / When we swerve in the Honda / Now forever seems like no time, I mean time flies when you have some”
The Car: Ocean doesn’t tell us what kind of Honda he’s swerving in, so let’s go with the process of elimination to figure this one out: He has too much style to be caught driving a Civic (full disclosure: this writer owns one) or even a slightly more expensive Accord. There’s nothing sexy about CR-Vs, HR-Vs, or any other sporty models with a hyphenate acronym in the name, so they’re out of the question — never mind the Honda mini-van. Because of this lyric’s allusion to dying in an accident on the road (“seems like time’s up”), our first guess might be a motorcycle like the BMW model he rode — and fell off of, if the dream sequence is any indication — in the music video for “Pyramids.” (This song also isn’t the only reference on Blonde to dying in a car crash. There’s also the essay published in the album’s accompanying zine, in which he wrote, “How much of my life has happened inside a car? I wonder if the odds are that I’ll die in one.”) So, which Honda is he swerving in? Look further back into Ocean’s discography and you’ll come across “Acura Integurl,” a song dedicated to his 1991 Acura Integra, from his independent mixtape, Lonny Breaux. Though it was marketed as an Acura, the Integra was manufactured by Honda, so it fits the bill.


The Porsche

PORSHE 911 Turbo Cabrio Studie (1981)
PORSHE 911 Turbo Cabrio Studie (1981)

Oleg Golovnev / Shutterstock

The Song: “Unity”
The Album: Endless
The Lyric: “I want the Porsche Bugatti designed”
The Car: Aside from containing some of the sickest rhymes ever spoken (“Belle nacho, shell taco, crunch crackle / green emerald / pink diamonds like Apple Jack bowl”), this song oscillates between depicting extreme poverty (“Chiraq, Palestine life… You’d think there was airstrikes on outside”) and extravagant wealth (“Place order McMansion and two apple pies / I want the Porsche Bugatti designed.”) No, not just any Porsche — THE PORSCHE THAT BUGATTI DESIGNED. The late Italian car manufacturer Ettore Bugatti never designed a Porsche, but Ocean could be referring to the custom-built vintage Porsche 911 that’s owned by Bugatti’s head of design, Achim Anscheidt.


Sauber Mercedes C-9

Sauber-Mercedes C9
Sauber-Mercedes C9

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Song: “Comme Des Garcon”
The Album: Endless
The Lyrics: “C9’s with the blue color / If that’s a lease, least it looks cool on ya”
The Car: Of all the references to cars in Ocean’s music, this one might be the most thinly-veiled, if only because it’s referencing someone else’s car, not one that belongs to him. “Comme de Garcons,” which translates in French to “like boys” (it’s also the name of a Japanese menswear brand Ocean has been photographed wearing), is a summer jam that’s dripping with sex and desire, and it makes sense then that the car in question (“If that’s a lease, least it looks cool on ya”) is equally easy to lust after. Introduced in 1987, the Sauber Mercedes C9 race car — which then boasted a 5.0L turbo-charged V8 engine — set one of the fastest recorded speeds during a competition in France, clocking in at nearly 250 miles per hour.


Big-Body Mercedes

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 250d
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 250d

Photo via VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

The Song: “Higgs”
The Album: Endless
The Lyric: “Big body Merc, LED lights and it’s all overpriced”
The Car: What kind of car would you buy if you’re planning to start a family and money is no object? (“I ain’t making minimum wage momma… Now I’m making 400, 600, 800k momma,” Ocean raps on “Futura Free.”) Of course you’d go with the big body Mercedes, “LED lights and it’s all overpriced.” If you were Ocean, you’d probably go with the 2016 GLE 250d and you’d get it with the blue color, too. To be sure, it’s a far cry from the C-9 name-checked in “Comme Des Garcon,” but it’s the safer, more practical option if there could be a toddler in a car seat.

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