Despite being one of the world's biggest artists, Frank Ocean has purposely cultivated a reclusive lifestyle. As a result, most that is known about the singer's personal life and business dealings are revealed through the cryptic messages laced throughout his music. This shrouded persona makes stories about Ocean seem like folklore. However, during a rare interview with Gayletter, Ocean peeled back the veil to decipher some of the urban legends surrounding his artistry.
ASAP Rocky Mixed a Few Things Up When Explaining How Frank 'Finessed' the Music Industry
In January 2019, during an interview with iconic radio DJ Angie Martinez, ASAP Rocky first told the now-infamous story of how Frank Ocean was able to become an independent artist.
"He had a deal and he didn't put out an album for four years," Rocky explained. "With his deal, he literally figured out how to get $20 million from Lucian Grainge, drop his deal, figure out how to make the funds apply to another album, give them a bullshit album, get out his deal all in one round. Do you know how embarrassed the record industry was? ... That man figured out how to finesse the record industry and people don't talk about that."
Ocean first signed to Def Jam in 2011 ahead of his classic debut album Channel Orange. After its success Ocean took an unexpected hiatus before returning in 2016 with the visual album Endless and the traditional album Blonde. Endless fulfilled his contractual obligation to Def Jam, allowing him to release Blonde on his own indie label just one day later. This confused music fans including Rocky, who Ocean said accidentally missed key points when recounting the chain of events to Martinez.
"It’s funny you bring up Rocky, because after that came out, I was like, 'Rocky, I think we gotta review the CliffsNotes of that situation because you got a couple parts a little fucked up,'" Ocean said to Gayletter. Although he didn't go into detail on where Rocky misspoke he did admit that he can't offer any advice on how to duplicate his method because the record industry has now caught on.
"There was certainly noise within the industry about it, like Universal saying no more exclusives could happen afterwards," Ocean considered. "So I was being asked about it, and I didn’t really talk about it too much with people. But with Rocky, we spoke about it. I think with advice, that situation probably won’t ever happen again in the same way, so I don’t know if my advice would be any good as far as how to do it again."
Writing for Other Artists Taught Him How to Be Quicker in the Studio
The time Frank takes between releasing projects has branded him as a notorious procrastinator and perfectionist. Although he's meticulous when it comes to his own music, Ocean disclosed that his prolific work as a songwriter for other artists actually sped up his creative process.
"I learned how to be quicker, if you can believe it. [Laughs] I learned how to be quicker in the studio," Ocean said before telling a story about how his creative lyrics granted him free studio time. With this luxury, he perfected his own recording process while molding this technique when working on pieces for other people's projects.
The Meaning Behind the Name Frank Ocean
Gayletter inquired if Frank Ocean is the man formerly known as Lonny Breaux's "drag persona" or if there's no separation between his artistic self and everyday life. (He legally became Frank Ocean in 2015.) This question led to Ocean revealing that he's been trying to finesse record labels since first being discovered in 2005 and the name Frank Ocean is a byproduct of that desire.
"For me, the genesis of that name change came from me trying to make a project without my label knowing about it. It was born from a need," Ocean explained. "I hear certain people say that about their name, their look, even their sound, that it’s a form of armor or a shield from whatever pain they might not want to feel. I don’t think that was it, though. I was just trying to be slick, so I could do what I was doing without people knowing. And it worked."
He's Been in a Relationship for 3 Years
Frank Ocean's mysterious personal life leaves many wondering how he's doing in the romantic companionship department. True to his anti-establishment persona, Ocean states that he doesn't use dating apps—not because he's too cool for them, but due to the fact he's currently in a long-term relationship.
"I don’t use dating apps. I’ve been in a relationship for three years. I definitely wasn’t using dating apps before then. I don’t think I would use dating apps now. I fuck with Marc Jacobs’ philosophy on that, so I wouldn’t rule it out, but it is a little hectic being a famous person on dating apps."
He Wishes He Got a More Genuine Picture With Obama
After detailing his concerns with the byproducts of time-traveling, Ocean does admit that he wished he had more tangible memories from his first taste of mainstream success. This includes his trip to the White House where he met President Barack Obama. Although he says there are "class-photo photos" of his time in Washington, D.C., Ocean says he would give his past self a camera to capture the "ill-er" White House moments.
Frank said he thinks he "would definitely tell myself to get a camera and shoot a lot more... I’m, like, running around, and hanging out with the president—the old president, not the new president—and I am in this super cool, once-in-a-lifetime moment, and it would be good to have some photos."