Unwrapping Frank Ocean

Ben Travis discusses Frank Oceans career

Ben Travis
4th November 2019
(Wikimedia Commons- david_hwang)
Frank Oceans first song of the 2019 is here. ‘DHL’ arrived on October 19th, making it Ocean’s first delivery of the year.

Christopher Bureaux was raised in New Orleans, with his mother until the age of 18. He studied English Literature at The University of New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina hit, influencing Ocean to move to L.A, to pursue his passion of music as ‘Frank Ocean’.

With little over $1000, Ocean began writing songs for artists such as Justin Bieber, John Legend and more. Tricky Stewart, a producer known for the likes of ‘Umbrella’ by Rhianna and ‘Single Ladies’ by Beyoncé, eventually discovered Frank, signing him to Def Jam records as a solo artist.

Around this time, Ocean began mingling with Odd Future, an L.A based rap group made up by artists like Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. When asked if Odd Future had impacted his career in a BBC interview, Ocean said: ‘absolutely, it liberated my thinking in some ways, creatively and in a sense of knowing you can do a lot of it by yourself’.

Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra, was leaked in 2011. The Guardian reports that Ocean had apparently leaked the mixtape himself; due to his record Def Jam Records being ‘too slow’ in releasing his work. Nostalgia, Ultra was mainly written and produced by Frank, whilst also sampling many songs from his favourite childhood bands; Coldplay, MGMT and Radiohead. The 9-song masterpiece received instant acclaim and was the beginning of Frank’s artistic recognition. Shortly following, Ocean was asked to feature on the Jay-Z and Kanye West album; Watch the Throne, widening his following to a global scale.

Ocean later released Channel Orange, his first studio album on July 1st, 2012. The album again received rave reviews, being declared the album of the year by several publications. Channel Orange additionally won Best Contemporary album; beating the likes of Miguel and Chris Brown (who had punched Frank Ocean weeks before). After Channel Orange, Ocean stayed quiet for over three years, besides a couple of features.

Replacing his manager, publicist and lawyer, Frank Ocean moved to London. He fought to break the shackles of his Def Jam Records Contract; resulting in Ocean having to use his own money to buy his way out; with the agreement that he would release his next project with Def Jam. Ocean did so, creating a video album titled ‘Endless’ in 2016, which is only available on Apple Music. Endless lacked substance to many; critic Brian Josephs’ wrote that Endless felt ‘formless’ and said ‘if Endless is supposed to be the Album… well, ouch.’

But it wasn’t THE album. Two days later, Frank independently released Blonde, a project he had secretly kept from Def Jam. 1-0 Frank ocean. Blonde was an immediate hit, satisfying fans who had been clutching their Frank Ocean Love for three years. Ocean decided not to submit it for any Grammy consideration, claiming the award system was outdated and how “It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.”

Ocean has been dropping singles once or twice per year since the release of Blonde. 'Channel', 'Biking', 'Moon River' and now 'DHL' have all satisfied our quench for more Frank Ocean; but in today’s climate, we don’t stay hydrated for long. Regardless of the demand for another Frank Ocean album, it’s safe to say we are living in Franks world, and until he decides to supply, we will wait.

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