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Important Questions Raised By...

Boys Don't Ply: We Asked a Bunch of Builders What Frank Ocean Is Building

On the week Frank Ocean took DIY into a new frontier, we asked home improvement specialists the important questions.
Ryan Bassil
London, GB

Of all the world’s communities, DIY enthusiasts receive little attention. Each weekend, they’re there: stocking up on polyfill, smashing holes into walls, and assembling flat-packed furniture to the extended dismay of children, partners, and hungover next door neighbours. These amateur home improvement specialists have maintained a constant presence in this world for decades, yet they've never taken centre stage. This week, their presence in the global forum changed; because this is the week Frank Ocean took up DIY.


After four years of relative silence, nauseating memes, and broken promises, Frank Ocean appeared in a live stream on Monday morning. Not to play music, or announce a new album, but to transport the mantle of DIY enthusiasts into previously unchartered territory. For two hours, he chopped, he cut some shit, he let sparks fly. Truly, it was a snapshot for the ages. Some people will tell you the experience is a meditation on, like, patience, or the hardships one must endure to create an album, or some shit. Perhaps that’s true. But it’s also the moment home improvement went stratospheric.

In many ways, Frank Ocean has rehabilitated the art of carpentry. In the days that have passed since he brought power tools back en vogue, it has been suggested that he’s using plywood to build a staircase. Of course, no one on the internet has a clue what he’s building, because the skill set of internet users rarely extends into the realm of manual labour. In fact, most Frank fans have been engulfed in a different breed of research; one that involves calling up Apple stores, to check if the album will be released on Friday, or piecing together instrumentals from the live stream with previously recorded snippets.

That sort of stan-level exploration is all well and good. But what about the questions that matter? Like, what is Frank Ocean building, if it’s not a staircase? What does this grand and monumental spectacle mean for the DIY community? Is this the first and only time we’ve witnessed an icon use power tools? In order to find out, I let some DIY experts rest their hard-worked feet on the poufs of content and comment.



Who are they?

A multinational company specialising in home improvement, from shower heads to door knobs to a range of cactus plants.

What do they think Frank Ocean is building?

Hi. I’m calling from Noisey. I wanted to find out what you think about the world’s most conceptual building project.

Who would you like to speak to regarding this matter?

I would like you speak to you, the biggest multinational DIY company in Britain, about the world’s most conceptual building project.

This is not a building project. This is a DIY shop. We can help you as much as you need.

That’s great, because this matter concerns DIY.

What are you trying to buy for it?

Well, I’m looking at someone on the internet. I think they’re trying to build a staircase?

They want to make a staircase?


Well, you can buy a ready made staircase. Or you can buy wood and timber and make it yourself.

It looks like they’re making it themselves.

Are you a professional carpenter?


Well, you can buy a complete staircase ready made and take it and put it up there. It will cut your budget, cut your time, cut your everything.

I’m not talking about me, though. I’m talking about Frank Ocean. He has a lot of money to spend.

It’s not the money we are talking about.

Do you know Frank Ocean?


You haven’t heard anything about him chartering a new frontier for DIY?

No. We don’t deal in anything like that. We focus on how to sell the products.

Sid’s DIY

Who are they?

A local DIY store catering to the building needs of the community.


What do they think Frank Ocean is building?

I’m calling about Boys Don’t Cry.


How does it feel to be part of the community behind that project?

What project?

Frank Ocean’s Boys Don’t Cry. The Best DIY project this century.

I don’t know.

Do boys cry when they’re doing DIY?

I don’t know. I’ve never asked them.

Have you ever cried?

Yes - everyone cries! Especially when you hit your finger.

Do boys cry when they’re making a staircase?

It depends. Do they have all the right tools?

They’re using a welder, a circular saw…

Hang on - what are they making the staircase out of? Why have they got a welder? That’s not how you make a staircase. It takes years of experience to make a staircase! You can’t explain it. You need to look at diagrams to learn how to make it.

The guy who is making it has been away studying for a long time. He has four years experience. He’s seen a lot of diagrams.

Well, he should have done it in a day then.





London Power Tools

Who are they?

Distributor of power tools, hand tools, and more. Google review: "An excellent standard of service and will use them again in the future."

What do they think Frank Ocean is building?

Hello mate. Is that London Power Tools and fixings? Can I get your opinion on something quickly?

I’ll try.

Thank you. Say if I was a famous musician, like Frank Ocean, and I wanted to be in a video - what are the most stylish power tools I could be using?


It depends on the type of power tools you wanted, really.

I’m looking for ones that an iconic artist might be using.

It really all depends. Your best bet is to email the web guys. From an artist point of view, a lot of those guys are really artistic.

Right. Anyway - has Frank Ocean subverted the concept of DIY?

I have no interest in music.

But if you did… what would it mean to the DIY community to have an iconic musician using power tools?

If I knew anything about music, I’d have the answer for you. Like I said, the best thing to do would be to email the web guys.

What music do you like?

This is not a conversation I need to be having at this time of day.


Who are they?

A guy we found on the street outside our office.

What do they think Frank Ocean is building?

It looks like pavement. Or flooring. Oh no, it’s metal. What is that? Is it wood?

He’s doing welding. He’s cutting metal. He’s got a drill.

I have no idea what he’s going to build.

How do you feel about someone livestreaming themselves building?

Why not? Other people who work in construction just build for other people, but they never take a piece for themselves. It looks cool!

It might get more people interested in building. Do you think so?

Why not?

What’s your opinion on this glorious spectacle of DIY?

It needs more colour. It looks really sad.


Who are they? social editor and DIY enthusiast and expert. A* in DT GCSE.

What do they think Frank Ocean is building?


Hello Rob. So… what tools is Frank Ocean using?

He’s got a very specific type of welder used in cars. He’s got a big drill. He’s got a smaller drill.

What brands?

You’re looking at the Millermatic 211 AutoSet. There’s a DW872 14" Multi-Cutter Saw. But enough about that. Let’s talk about the staircase. Compared to my research, it doesn’t look like a staircase.

What results did your research yield?

Well, with a spiral staircase you normally have an angled tread. To create a full circle, it goes around in a circuit, with one end wider than the other. It tends to have a lot of support in the middle using thin ply to stop it from collapsing, which he doesn’t seem to have accounted for.

Woah - Rob! How do you know so much about DIY?

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past two days studying up. I also once built a tree house. It was about ten feet high by six feet. It was quite a significant project. Frank Ocean has definitely reignited my passion.

What do you think he’s making?

I’ve considered it in great detail. I’d like for him to be making a boat. He might just be building something - not because it’s a comment on creation, but because he just wants to build.

Let’s go inside and build, fam?

Let’s do it.

You can find Ryan on Twitter.