Review: DHL was a hot mess delivered late
Frank Ocean washes away a dry period in his music career
November 5, 2019
Frank Ocean returns to the music industry with one of the most confusing song to listen to after such a long hiatus. “DHL” worked with a lot more of Ocean’s current life but mixes it up with lyrics harder to interpret.
The intro starts out with Ocean describing himself as a giver in his relationships, despite not receiving much back. He continues on about he doesn’t always give up on live. It also indicates how his life doesn’t only revolve around the topic of his sexuality. The intro was short and simple, with lyrics that sort of connect to Ocean’s overall message. You could piece this back to the delivered here late part as to how he doesn’t receive back from his relationships. It’s smooth, sticking with his style used in Blonde.
The first verse discusses his life outside of his music and sets the story the song revolves around in a Starbucks, where he makes eye contact with someone and they exchange numbers. His lyrics, “beans, Starbucks, starstruck” simplistically describe the setting and his current emotion. It’s metaphorical for the way he interacts with others in relationships depending on his mood, in this case, it’s pretty relaxed, which keeps in with his overall more chill style that I remember from Blonde. It’s fitting to his style yet is a lot less forward with its message. “DHL” seems to be a song you’d listen to if you’re still up at 3 am and musing over situations made up in your mind. It’s the most laid back part of the song and easiest to comprehend what Ocean is trying to explain.
The chorus is where the title “DHL” becomes more relevant when he receives a package from the shipping company while waiting for his newfound lover and his mood shifts from romantic to more professional. He doesn’t say what’s in the package, however the lines “just got out found a pack” and “just caught up on a pill” suggest it could be some sort of drug.
Verse two follows it, leaving me confused after trying to piece together the words. At this point of the song, I briefly zoned out listening to the lyrics and more so the actual melody, which had tensed a bit. The chill rhythm seemed to have sped up and the only thing you can depict from the verse is how Ocean’s life passes by quickly through small occurrences each day. As enjoyable as it is to listen to, he words make absolutely no sense.
After the wild mess that was verse two, I hoped for the outro to be a lot less intense as the chorus playing in between didn’t help. “DHL” finishes off with Ocean comparing selling his music to selling his drugs, a nod toward how nasty the business can get. He now has a boyfriend who he met at Starbucks and that’s the end of the song. It brings the coffee shop flirting from to beginning of the song to a full circle and completes that story line.
It’s incredibly easy to get lost in listening to “DHL”, but the song still caps off a dry period for Ocean’s music. It’s not clear whether or not Ocean’s suggesting he’s doing drugs or making a metaphorical statement on his music career, but the lyrics do emphasize what his life’s been like in the past three years. “DHL” leaves me extremely hopeful for new music from the artist soon after the long wait and for more experimentation like this one in the future.
Jennifer Le is a sophomore and the Online Managing Editor for RHSToday. When she's not in room 112, she loves to paint and bake (especially bread). Jenny...