Frank Ocean’s second studio album, Blonde, was unexpectedly dropped last week and is now coasting to the top of the charts. But could this release, which has been anticipated for the last several years, result in a lawsuit against Ocean? Maybe.
Just a day before the 28-year-old singer dropped the record, he came through with a visual album titled Endless. We previously reported that latest album was released through Def Jam Recordings. But Blonde was actually delivered independently through his own label, Boys Don’t Cry. Sources later claimed Ocean had used Endless to fulfill the terms of his Def Jam contract, which enabled him to release the studio album without any involvement from his former label or its parent company Universal Music Group.
Back in July, Billboard reported that UMG spent about $2 million on the recording of Blonde, which was previously titled Boys Don’t Cry. At first glance, it seems as though Ocean pulled a fast one on UMG—basically taking its resources to create the project and then leaving it with no profits. But Billboard reported that Ocean has actually paid the recording costs back, "absolving him of any recoupable claims from Def Jam/UMG."
So it seems as though Ocean is in the clear, right? Maybe not. Though he seemingly fulfilled his obligations, the publication points out that many recording contracts include minimum-delivery clauses, which means he would’ve had to complete a specified number of projects—in this case, two albums—within a certain timeframe "and at a label-acceptable level of quality." Generally, these contracts also designate an amount of time before an artist can release material with another label, and it usually isn’t shorter than 24 hours.
So, will Ocean be slapped with a lawsuit? We can’t say right now. But sources say UMG may have grounds to do so.