You know you’re going places when you’ve written songs for John Legend and Beyonce, worked with Nas and are featured on Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Watch The Throne” album; even more so when you’ve accomplishing all of this in your early 20s.
Up-and-coming songwriter, producer and singer Frank Ocean has had a meteoric rise to fame, and all signs point to continued success in the future. But it wasn’t easy getting to where he is today.
As he explains in Complex Magazine, the New Orleans native was attending the University of New Orleans when his mother called him and told him he had to evacuate — Hurricane Katrina was coming. Determined to continue recording, he took off to Los Angeles with the intention of staying there for a few weeks to work in the studio. He wound up staying in California to continue pursuing his music career.
In 2009, Ocean joined a rap group called Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All and was part of a producing duo. Eventually he was discovered by producer Tricky Stewart and signed to Def Jam Recordings, but never developed a relationship with the label. So he started writing songs for other artists and released his album, “Nostalgia, Ultra” on the internet for free last year. The success of his independent online release put him in the national spotlight.
Ocean’s songs offer glimpses into his emotions during past relationships and life experiences, and have caught the attention of established artists, leading to collaborations with Jay Z and Kanye West, and compliments from others.
Frank Ocean is making history … as an artist on the rise. Reaching international fame, Ocean was a runner up for the BBC Sound of 2012 poll and was named GQ’s Rookie of the Year.
What’s next for Frank Ocean?
After the success of the singles “Novacane” and “Swim Good” from “Nostalgia, Ultra,” Ocean is scheduled to release his debut album through Def Jam this spring.
In his own words …
“I guess I’m just inspired to tell stories,” Ocean told BBC News. “You gotta make sure the listener is listening to you, so if you put it into a song, often times, if the song is striking enough, then you can really deliver the story most effectively while keeping the ear of the listener the whole time. I guess it all starts with the stories for me.”
A little-known fact about Frank Ocean …
The artist formerly known as Christopher “Lonny” Breaux legally changed his name to Christopher Frank Ocean in 2010. “It was like a middle finger to my slave name,” he told L’Uomo Vogue.