Finding Frank Ocean
"If you liked two thousand and seventeen then you'll love two thousand and eighteen." Frank Ocean fans haven't been able to shake this quote for awhile now, but where's "2018?"
I consider myself an active follower and lover of music (particularly hip-hop and R&B), but I have never found myself too invested into an artist or music group. What I mean by that is something along the lines of being a super fan or being a part of a fandom where you basically collect everything of an artist and follow their every move. However, there is one particular artist who I could say I am a big fan of, and that one artist is Frank Ocean.
I first learned of Ocean in 2011 while scrolling through my dashboard on Tumblr. I would come across his music from his debut mixtape, nostalgia, ULTRA, which he released for free via Tumblr – the only platform he uses, and his only contact with his fans. During that time, he was underrated, “something of a sleeper in the hip-hop and R.&B. worlds”. However, that all changed when Ocean posted his coming out letter right before his 2012 studio album, Channel Orange.
“Orange reminds me of the summer I first fell in love. Awww…”
– Frank via Tumblr
Ocean’s journey as an artist first began as a struggle. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, Ocean departed his hometown of New Orleans and drove cross country to Los Angeles with just $1,100 in his pocket. What intended to be just six weeks in hopes of recording demos in a real studio, turned into a new life in Los Angeles. For the first four and a half years, Ocean was always in the studio writing songs for famous music artists like Justin Bieber, Beyonce, and John Legend. In addition to that, he had 11 jobs. He tells GQ in an interview, “I worked at Kinko’s, Fatburger, Subway—I was a sandwich artist—and I was a claims processor at Allstate Insurance.”
In 2009, Ocean met Tricky Stewart, a producer and A&R for Island/Def Jam, who signed him onto Def Jam record label as a solo artist under his real name, Lonny Breaux. However, the label wasn’t so motivated. Instead, they left him on the outskirts with zero support or money to help him record. A year later, Ocean met Tyler, The Creator and the other members of Odd Future, Los Angeles-based hip-hop collective, in which he joined. Without any support from Def Jam, he found inspiration and motivation to pursue his dreams in music from his involvement with Odd Future. He tells GQ, “The do-it-yourself mentality of OF really rubbed off on me.” With that, he dropped nostalgia, ULTRA under his new name Frank Ocean.
After posting his coming out letter and releasing his critically acclaimed Channel Orange, Ocean went on tour before going in seclusion. However, he did make surprise appearances in music, as well as at the 2013 Grammys where he performed “Forrest Gump.” Basically throughout the next three years, Ocean leaves his fans restless and curious of his whereabouts, while waiting for his sophomore album.
In July 2016, Ocean hinted at a second album by posting on his website an image of a library card with numerous due dates ranging from July 2015 to July 2016. He also had the help of his younger brother, Ryan Breaux, who forwarded the news through his own social media. However, nothing came about until August 2016 when Endless, a 45-minute long visual album, was released on Apple Music— thus marking the end of his relationship with Def Jam. In the same week, he had four pop-up shops in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and London that gave away 360-page magazines titled Boys Don’t Cry, AND dropped Blonde; his first independently released album.
Since then, it’s been a wild ride for Ocean; he has definitely come a long way. Within the last year, he’s collaborated with artists like Calvin Harris, hosted his own Apple Music Radio Show called Blonded Radio, sold out festivals, released singles like “Chanel” and “Provider,” and turned 30! In addition to all that, he’s once more hinted at a project (this will be his fifth project) via i-D magazine and Tumblr stating, “If you liked two thousand and seventeen then you’ll love two thousand and eighteen.”
Ocean has managed to maintain a fanbase and top the charts with little to no publicity, which definitely says something about the weight of his music. With his occasional dropped singles and his suspected fifth project, we have yet to hear more from Ocean— especially this year.
If you haven’t already, I’d advise you Frank Ocean fans to check out this reddit page dedicated to Frank Ocean where you can find memes, updates, and other fans!
Listen to Frank Ocean’s most recently dropped song, “Moon River:”
You can also view Frank Ocean’s “Nikes” video below— with cameos by A$AP Rocky, and tributes to Pimp C and Trayvon Martin.