When Frank Ocean released his "visual album" Endless on Def Jam only a day before putting out Blonde independently, many people speculated that Endless was released only to fulfill the terms of the singer's record contract. But now an anonymous source is telling the Associated Press that wasn't the case at all. Rather, Def Jam let Ocean out of his contract early because the two sides could not get along.
The source compared the interaction between Ocean and his label to a "bad marriage." "He didn't want to be on the label," the source said. "He wanted to do his own thing. I'm sure there was some kind of negotiation in order for him to get out of the contract if there were remaining commitments on the contract."
The Associated Press story implies that Blonde's entire existence was a surprise to Def Jam up until the very last minute.
Ocean's problems with Def Jam date back years. Back in 2011, he criticized the label on Twitter after the release of Nostalgia, Ultra. He referred to the storied label as a "failing company," and said, "fuck Def Jam & any company that goes the length of signing a kid with dreams & talent w/ no intention of following through."
However it happened, releasing Blonde independently has been a financial windfall for Ocean, reportedly netting him seven figures. He is now rumored to be searching for a distributor to help him with a physical release for the album. The record was originally an Apple Music exclusive, but is now available on Spotify.