“Mr. Ocean” breaks his silence for the first time since releasing Blonde and Endless.
The New York Times has published a lengthy interview with Frank Ocean examining his life as one of the most reclusive stars in the music business.
Described by writer Jon Caramanica as “preternaturally calm, consistently forthright, reflexively self-aware, and wryly funny,” Ocean talks about his decision to snub the Grammys ceremony and his split with his label Def Jam in his first interview in several years.
“That institution certainly has nostalgic importance,” he said of the Grammys. “It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.”
“I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience,” he added, referring to the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who refused to stand for the national anthem in protest against racism and police brutality.
He described his split from Def Jam as “seven-year chess game” which involved buying himself out of his contract and purchasing back all of his master recordings with his own money.
“With this record [Blonde] in particular, I wanted to feel like I won before the record came out, and I did, and so it took a lot pressure off of me about how the record even would perform after the fact,” he said.
The full interview is essential reading for fans of Mr. Ocean.
Ocean’s 2016 albums are not eligible for the 2017 Grammys, it was revealed last month. It’s not clear whether Ocean intentionally took Blonde out of the running, but his representative confirmed that the album was not been submitted. Endless is ineligible due to its unconventional format – it can only be streamed as a long-form video through Apple Music.
Earlier this year, Ocean’s guitarist Billy “Spaceman” Patterson said there was “a whole lot of music” from the Blonde and Endless sessions that hadn’t been released. “Our sessions are like, man, we had like 14-hour, 15-, 16-hour sessions,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff that we recorded that I still haven’t heard yet.”