What do you when you move thousands of miles away from home to pursue a career, get signed to a major record label, and nothing happens? If you're Frank Ocean you stop waiting for the powers that be to make a move and take matters into your own hands.
The New Orleans-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has become one of music's hottest commodities in a matter of weeks—but overnight success never occurs as quickly as it appears. Before his stellar self-released debut, nostalgia,ULTRA. (which you can download for free here), was clocking downloads at an unprecedented pace, the 23-year-old’s career was held up by obstacles ranging from Hurricane Katrina to industry politics, but those days are over.
This week, Complex caught up with Christopher Francis Ocean and got the scoop on how he got down with Odd Future, his writing process, and what he thinks of the Drake comparisons.
RELATED: The 25 Weirdest Tweets by Frank Ocean
As told to Ernest Baker (@newbornrodeo)
He’s Related To Billy Ocean?
Relationship with Odd Future
"nostalgia,ULTRA." Meaning and Artwork
Writing for Himself, Others, and Production
Comparisons to Drake
Frank Ocean "Songs For Women"
Frank Ocean: "Drake reached out to me when the record came out and paid me a compliment about the sound of it. I respect Drake not only as a creative person, but as a business mind as well. I think Drake’s important. The moral of the story is Drake’s ill, and I’m ill.
"When I talk about the girl listening to Drake and Trey Songz on 'Songs For Women,' that was more in sarcasm, and in jest, than it was in seriousness. I don’t think any person in a serious relationship is threatened by the person on the radio. It’s just a cool detail. It’s not like you’re going to go off on your girl because she’s listening to whoever. That doesn’t make any sense. That’s some other shit. Like, you’ll fuck with your girl. You might poke fun at her like, 'You know I be recording and shit, but you don’t listen to my shit like that.' It’s funny. The shit doesn’t make it to a serious point, ever."
Being Signed to Def Jam
Studio Session with Beyonce
Moving from New Orleans to Los Angeles
Influence of Relationships on Music
Frank Ocean "Swim Good"
Frank Ocean: "My music definitely comes from a place of experience. Everything connects to a truth. Heartbreak, I imagine, has been the same emotion since the beginning of it all. I think the reason it might sound different coming from me is because, as a storyteller I might be telling the story differently than how it's been told. But I don’t think I’m telling a new story. Maybe I’m wrong.
"Going through heartbreak was new for me. I wasn’t trying to make a record that people could relate to. I was just trying to make a record with the shit that I wanted to express. The shit that I wanted to get off my chest. Everybody has a unique experience, but it’s a feeling that’s so human that others can relate to it.
"A lot of this record is influenced by one relationship, but I don’t owe that whole project to one situation. It doesn’t matter what the details of it are."
Frank Ocean "American Wedding"
Frank Ocean: "I’m an artist, first and foremost. I don’t like boxes. Whether you’re singing or rapping or spoken word, any combination you love, the lyrics sheet should always read well. So that’s how I approach everything, no matter what I’m doing.
"Yeah, I tagged the album as Bluegrass. I move a lot off instinct. I enjoy little details like that. I don’t want to seem like I have a cause against genres, or maybe I do, but I didn’t think about it that much. Bluegrass is swag. Bluegrass is all the way swag.
Relationship with Lupe Fiasco
Looking Forward to the Future
Frank Ocean "Novacaine"
Frank Ocean: "One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was, 'Continue doing what you’re doing.' I’m going to continue to be guided, and continue to progress. I’ll be getting on the road and working on new music. I'm nine or ten pieces into this next body of work. I'll be writing with people that want to write with me, and that I want to write with. And that’s all. Just keeping it moving. Continuing to do what I want to do."