Frank Ocean Biography
In 2012, Ocean finished second place in the BBC's Sound of 2012 poll, and appeared at Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals at the conclusion of his 2012 Summer Tour. His debut studio album, Channel Orange, was released in July 2012, promoted with three charting singles: "Thinkin Bout You", "Pyramids", and "Sweet Life". Ocean wrote an open letter, intended for the liner notes on Channel Orange, that would preemptively address speculation about his same-sex attraction; he instead blogged it on Tumblr. Ocean became one of the first major African-American music artists to announce that he had fallen in love with someone of the same sex, notable because the music scene is known for homophobia.
Ocean was born Christopher "Lonny" Breaux on October 28, 1987, in Long Beach, California. When he was around five years old, he and his family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. He grew up around its local jazz scene and listened to his mother's CDs on her car stereo, including albums by Celine Dion, Anita Baker, and The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. As a teenager, he did neighborhood chores and saved up money to rent studio time. As he recalled, "Oh man I had numerous hustles [...] Washing cars was one of them, and mowing lawns and walking dogs." He enrolled in the University of New Orleans and moved into its dormitory in 2005.
2005–10: Beginnings in Los Angeles
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit Ocean's hometown of New Orleans and his recording facility was looted and destroyed by floodwater. To continue recording music, he moved to Los Angeles and intended to stay for six weeks. However, after acclimating himself with music industry circles, Ocean planned to stay longer and develop his music career. He recorded demos at a friend's studio and shopped them around Los Angeles. After getting a songwriting deal, he started working with other record producers and writing songs for artists such as Justin Bieber, John Legend, and Brandy. Ocean later said of his work at the time, "There was a point where I was composing for other people, and 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 meeting them in 2009 through networking, Ocean joined the Los Angeles-based hip hop collective OFWGKTA, also known as Odd Future. His friendship with Odd Future member Tyler, The Creator reinvigorated Ocean's songwriting. In late 2009, he met Tricky Stewart, who helped him sign a contract with Def Jam Recordings as a solo artist, though he was initially unable to build a relationship with the company. In 2010, through a legal website, he changed his name from Christopher Breaux to Christopher Francis Ocean, which was inspired partly by the 1960 film Ocean's 11.
2011–13: Nostalgia, Ultra and Channel Orange
Ocean has written songs for Justin Bieber, John Legend, Brandy, and Beyoncé Knowles. He has also worked with artists such as Nas and Pharrell Williams. On February 18, 2011, Ocean released his first mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, to critical acclaim. The mixtape focuses on interpersonal relationships, personal reflection and social commentary. NPR's Andrew Noz said Ocean's songwriting is "smart and subtle...setting him apart from the pack." Rolling Stone magazine's Jonah Weiner wrote that Ocean was a "gifted avant-R&B smoothie". In April 2011, Ocean stated that his relationship with Def Jam strengthened since the release of the mixtape.
Ocean sampled the music from The Eagles' song "Hotel California" on his song "American Wedding" from Nostalgia, Ultra. When asked about it, Ocean stated that Eagles band member "Don Henley is apparently intimidated by my rendition of 'Hotel California'. He threatened to sue if I perform it again." In response to Ocean's comments, The Eagles legal representative released a statement: "Frank Ocean did not merely 'sample' a portion of the Eagles' 'Hotel California,' he took the whole master track, plus the song's existing melody, and replaced the lyrics with his own. This is not creative, let alone 'intimidating.' It's illegal. For the record, Don Henley has not threatened or instituted any legal action against Frank Ocean, although the Eagles are now considering whether they should." Chris Richards of The Washington Post remarked that "certain boomers don't like [Ocean] as much" as "information-age babies" due to the controversy.
Ocean first appeared in Tyler, The Creator's music video for the single "She", from Tyler's second studio album Goblin (2011). His first performance was in collaboration with Odd Future at the 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where he later joined them for their first tour across the east coast of the United States. On May 19, 2011 Ocean's record label Def Jam announced its plans to re-release Nostalgia, Ultra as an EP. The single 'Novacane' was released to iTunes in May 2011, and the EP originally was set to be released the next month, but was delayed. In June 2011, Ocean revealed that he would be working on the upcoming Kanye West and Jay-Z collaborative album, Watch the Throne. Ocean co-wrote and featured on two tracks: "No Church in the Wild" and "Made in America".
On July 28, 2011, a song titled "Thinkin Bout You", leaked on the internet. It was later revealed the song was a reference track, written by Ocean, for Roc Nation artist Bridget Kelly's debut studio album. Kelly renamed the song 'Thinking About Forever'. In September 2011, a music video directed by High5Collective for Ocean's version was released, yet the song still appeared on Kelly's debut EP Every Girl. In March 2012, a re-mastered version of "Thinkin Bout You" leaked, intended to be a single. Ocean released the cover art for his debut studio album's lead single, titled "Thinkin Bout You", revealing the song would be released to digital retailers on April 10. "It succinctly defines me as an artist for where I am right now and that was the aim," he said of the follow-up to his acclaimed Nostalgia, Ultra. "It's about the stories. If I write 14 stories that I love, then the next step is to get the environment of music around it to best envelop the story and all kinds of sonic goodness."
On June 8, 2012, a single from his debut studio album Channel Orange, entitled "Pyramids", was made available for download on Ocean's Tumblr blog. On July 10, 2012, Ocean made his debut television performance with "Bad Religion" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The same day, Ocean released his album one week ahead of schedule for digital download on iTunes and free streaming on his Tumblr blog. All other forms of distribution for the album became available on July 17, 2012. Ocean performed a stripped-down, minimal version of his single, "Thinkin Bout You", at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards which was held at the Staples Center arena at L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles.
Channel Orange won the Album of the Year award at the 2012 Soul Train Music Awards. The album also earned Ocean nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards in the categories of Album of the Year, Best New Artist, and Record of the Year for "Thinkin Bout You". He won a Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album. For his work on Jay-Z and West's "No Church in the Wild", he won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
2013–present: Second studio album
In February 2013, Ocean confirmed that he had started work on his second studio album, which he confirmed would be another concept album. He revealed that he was working with Tyler, the Creator, Pharrell Williams, and Danger Mouse on the record. He later stated that he was being influenced by The Beach Boys and The Beatles. He stated he was interested in collaborating with Tame Impala and King Krule and that he would record part of the album in Bora Bora. On May 28, 2013, Ocean announced the You're Not Dead... 2013 Tour; a fourteen-date European and Canadian tour that will begin on June 16, 2013, in Munich and will end on August 4, 2013 in Toronto at OVO Fest.