With not much more than a few dollars and his demos on him, Frank Ocean took the trip to Los Angeles that many dream of from his home of Louisiana to pursue a career in music. It was partly because LA is where things happen, but also partly because Hurricane Katrina had destroyed his recording space in New Orleans. The trip was intended to be six weeks long, but lasted for years. When in LA, he started writing music for the likes of Justin Bieber and Beyoncé, what many would call living the dream. But he wasn’t satisfied. “It might have been comfy to continue to do that and enjoy that income stream and the anonymity but that’s not why I moved away from school and away from family.” After getting close with Odd Future, he met Tricky Stewart, producer and A&R for Island/Def Jam, in late 2009. Tricky was amazed by Frank’s singing and songwriting and signed him. But soon after the signing, Stewart ended up leaving and Frank was left with a label who, as the producer and A&R put it, “didn’t give him the respect that I thought he deserved.” He was shelved. This was a time where Frank’s affiliation with Odd Future, who was steadily growing a dedicated fanbase, did him favours. Using the initiative that he saw took them so far, he put together a project called nostalgia, ULTRA and put it out for free with no assistance from Def Jam. In fact, it was put out despite Def Jam. “i. did. this. not ISLAND DEF JAM” he tweeted. “fuck DEF JAM & any company that goes the length of signing a kid with dreams & talent w/ no intention of following through.” The tape garnered very respectable buzz and Def Jam took note immediately. They pushed some songs from it as singles and though this might’ve benefitted Frank, it was understood that this was mainly self-serving and so that they could make money off of it where possible. They wanted to help bring his debut album to the shelves and the relationship was temporarily mended, like putting a mirror back together with cheap glue. Fast forward to the release of channel ORANGE in 2012 and that went as well as the label could have hoped, spawning a Billboard Top 100 charter in “Thinkin Bout You” and turning Frank into a star. But the damage was done, and the battle was on.
13 albums, 48 tracks
Frankly, I am not going to pretend that I understand the acclaim that Frank Ocean’s Blonde album has been getting. I have heard his work with other artists and have loved them (example, Beyonce’s “I Miss You” from her 4 album), but this is the first time I have heard his own work. I haven’t yet heard his first album Channel Orange so I actually don’t have any foundation or background to the music that he makes. I guess that’s why I was sonically shaken – if a term like that exists – when I listened to the Blonde album in its entirety. Ok, I have listened to ‘strange’ albums before or albums which are not made for the mainstream audience. Icelandic singer Bjork has many of those, Radiohead’s Kid A was also bizarre and some of Erykah Badu’s albums seem to go on and on. However, Frank Ocean takes it to another level as there is virtually no template that I can detect in the album – no chapters, no songs grouped together by theme. If this was writing fiction, this would be called ‘stream of consciousness’. Later, as I check the lyrics of the songs that I like in this album, I will see if indeed, some form of stream of consciousness has been used by Frank Ocean. There is no denying though that some parts of the album seem to be internal monologues. There are also parts where people are interviewed and they start talking about the most personal of things. I feel like I am a voyeur of this album – as I listen in to the thoughts of other people – their random thoughts on anything that comes up in the world created by Frank Ocean.
New Orleans native Frank Ocean moved to Los Angeles with hopes of making it in the music industry and for a while, things were really looking up. He was writing for stars and signed a deal with Def Jam, but eventually the trials and tribulations of the industry caught up with him. He and his label had somewhat of a fallout, with Frank disgruntled about how little they were doing for him. Taking initiative, in 2011, he went and recorded a project called nostalgia, ULTRA and put it out for free. It got him the buzz he needed and his label was interested again, mending their relationship, for now at least. They pushed it as much as they could and agreed on a deal for an album that would come in 2012 called channel ORANGE.
In 2010, despite being a newly signed Def Jam artist, Frank Ocean was a name relatively unknown to music fans. But behind the scenes, he had already been making some major moves. By then, he had written for Justin Bieber, John Legend and Brandy. The same year, he also started appearing on albums from MellowHype and Domo Genesis, both of them Odd Future acts. Naturally, their dedicated fan base started to take notice, but the true breakout year for Frank was 2011. Growing a little tedious of writing for artists rather than putting out his own music, he kicked off the year with his nostalgia, ULTRA mixtape. His Odd Future co-sign proved valuable and his fan base then was mostly comprised of theirs. The reception of the tape was overwhelmingly positive and it led him to work with Beyonce, JAY-Z and Kanye West, amongst others. Just like that, he was in LA, working with the stars, living the life of a star, and those debut album murmurs begun. He followed through to 2012, garnering attention and working on channel ORANGE all the while. Approximately a week before its July 10th release, Ocean took to his Tumblr account to post an open letter addressing his sexuality. In it, he reveals that his first true love was with a man. He thanked him for the influence on his life and spoke to his own emotion. “I feel like a free man” he wrote. His courage in publishing the letter was applauded by many and he included a copy of it with the physical version of channel ORANGE. Some of the music on the LP clearly addressed a man rather than a woman, resulting in huge cultural impact. Based on 46 reviews, Metacritic gives it an average score of 92/100, making it one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time. He toured the album in 2013 and then announced that he’d started working on the sophomore. And so it began.
Official Music Videos
Featuring Version Videos
Remix Version Videos
Static Image Video
- Jun 11, 2019Frank Ocean Says 'Channel Orange' Vinyl Is Coming "ASAP," Talks Def Jam Split
- Jun 11, 2019Frank Ocean Says He Felt “Euphoria” When He Left Def Jam, Promises Channel Orange Vinyl “ASAP” In New Interview
- Jun 11, 2019Frank Ocean Says Channel Orange Vinyl Coming “ASAP”
- Jun 06, 2019Vegyn, Frank Ocean Collaborator, Shares New 71-Song Mixtape: Listen
- May 05, 2019Frank Ocean Makes Commuting Look Cool in the Cactus Plant Flea Market VaporMax
- Apr 16, 2019Frank Ocean Says He Doesn’t Use Dating Apps & Shares How He Writes Music
- Apr 16, 2019Frank Ocean Shares His Creative Process In Rare Interview for 'Gay Letter'
- Mar 17, 2019Frank Ocean Gets Matt Groening's "Homo vs. Hetero" Artwork as a Tattoo
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