An overnight sensation in the best sense of the phrase, singer-songwriter Frank Ocean captured the attention of the R&B and hip-hop community with his extraordinary Nostalgia, Ultra (2011) mixtape and...
Long Beach, California, USA
|2012 MTV Video Music Awards||2012 2011 - 2012||Performer||n/a||1|
|The 55th Annual Grammy Awards||2012 2011 - 2012||Performer||n/a||1|
|The Great Gatsby||2013||Song||("No Church In The Wild")||1|
|Safe House||2012||Song||("No Church In The Wild")||1|
|The Great Gatsby||2013||Song Performer||("No Church In The Wild")||1|
|The Bling Ring||2013||Song||("Super Rich Kids")||1|
|The Bling Ring||2013||Song Performer||("Super Rich Kids")||1|
|Changed name to Christopher Francis Ocean, reportedly inspired by film "Ocean's Eleven" (1960)|
|Joined Los Angeles-based hip hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All|
|Released critically acclaimed debut mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra|
|Moved from Long Beach, CA to New Orleans, LA with family when he was five|
|Released breakthrough studio album Channel Orange; featured the single "Thinkin Bout You"|
|Signed contract with Def Jam Recordings as a solo artist|
|Recording studio damaged in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; moved back to Los Angeles, CA to shop demos|
Born Christopher Breaux in Long Beach, CA on Oct. 28, 1987, Frank Ocean relocated to New Orleans, LA with his family when he was five years old. The city's rich history of jazz music had a profound influence on him, as did his mother's collection of pop and R&B albums, and Ocean was soon working odd jobs to raise funds for studio time. In 2008, he enrolled at the University of New Orleans shortly before Hurricane Katrina unleashed its devastating impact on the city. Ocean's recording studio was damaged and looted in the aftermath of the storm, which prompted him to head for Los Angeles in order to continue making music. The move, initially planned as a six-week stay, became a permanent one after Ocean began shopping demos recorded at a friend's studio around town. The material generated a songwriting deal that led to work with pop stars like Justin Bieber and Brandy. During this period, Ocean also became part of the hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or Odd Future, which counted such rising rap stars as Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt among their vast number. His work with the group on their various releases spurred Ocean to work on his own material, which found a home at Def Jam in 2009 through his relationship with producer Christopher "Tricky" Stewart.
Ocean released Nostalgia, Ultra through his Tumblr blog in 2011, the same year that members of Odd Future began to infiltrate the mainstream hip-hop scene. Initially, the album was planned as a Def Jam release, with two singles, "Novacane" and "Swim Good," issued by the company prior to the planned street date. The company ultimately cancelled the release, but the groundswell of positive press for the record rendered label support moot. Critics heaped lavish praise on the record's R&B-influenced sound and lyrical content, which addressed issues of heartbreak, loss and longing. Ocean's social commentary on the track "We All Try," which voiced support for gay marriage and women's reproductive rights, also drew notice for its marked opposition to homophobic and sexist statements made by other Odd Future members. The surreal "Novacane" reached No. 17 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart, while "Swim Good" peaked at No. 70, marking Ocean as a music star on the rise, a position cemented by subsequent collaborations with such hit makers as Jay-Z and Kanye West on their Watch the Throne (2011) album and Beyoncé's single "4."
Ocean immediately set to work on his official studio debut for Def Jam, titled Channel Orange. An early version of its first single "Thinkin' Bout You," was released through his Tumblr blog before the completed track was issued through iTunes in May 2012. Critics immediately praised its atmospheric production and emotional lyrics, which addressed the impact of an unattainable relationship upon Ocean's well-being. Many also noted that the song, along with three other tracks on the album, seemed to address a sexual relationship with another man, which led to considerable industry speculation about Ocean's orientation. The singer directly addressed the situation in a post on his blog that featured a draft of the album's liner notes, in which Ocean explained that at the age of 19, he had fallen in love with a man with whom he had a physical and romantic relationship for two years. The news appeared to have little effect on the album itself, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and the top spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, while "Thinkin' Bout You" eventually rose to No. 39, providing Ocean with his highest chart placement. Critics again praised the album's candid lyrical content, as well as the album's idiosyncratic sound, which blended elements of jazz-funk, electronic music and psychedelia. Ocean subsequently supported the song and album with a 14-city tour, as well as several high-profile festival dates on both sides of the Atlantic.
By Paul Gaita
|University of New Orleans|
|In July 2012, Ocean published an open letter on his Tumblr blog site that revealed a relationship he had with another man when he was 19 years old. The singer described him as his first true love.|
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