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Ocean-ography: An Interview with Frank Ocean

While last year Frank Ocean earned a spot amongst GQ Magazine’s “Men of the Year” as their “Rookie of The Year,” his return to the list once again in 2012 comes as no surprise. The release of his sophomore album, channel ORANGE, ascended the R&B singer to unprecedented fame and the album itself received overwhelming critical acclaim. Once simply a mildly successful, Los Angeles by-way-of New Orleans songwriter who felt unfulfilled in his creative outputs and under-utilized by his label, Ocean has since become a household name. In fact, he is widely accepted as one of the most promising voices in the new generation of artists whose own fame can be traced back to the internet and to the now widespread DIY music scene. And while Ocean expressed in the interview that he hopes it will be his music that always speaks loudest, unavoidable was the open letter he posted to his Tumblr in July, where he divulged details regarding his first love, the most surprising of which that this experience was with a man. That moment and that letter could very well be seen as a turning point not only in the artist’s career, but in the landscape of hip-hop and R&B as an industry and as a culture that historically has resisted the acceptance of the LGBT community. Covered in the rich and insightful profile are Frank’s own thoughts surrounding the release of the letter, as well as his past with Def Jam records, Odd Future, and his ambitious plans for the future. Read an excerpt from the Amy Wallace interview below and see it in its entirety here.

You’d written the letter back in December, for inclusion in the liner notes. Were you afraid of the aftermath when you finally posted it in July?
The night I posted it, I cried like a fucking baby. It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head. All the receptors were now receiving a different signal, and I was happy. I hadn’t been happy in so long. I’ve been sad again since, but it’s a totally different take on sad. There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.

Exactly how did your perspective change?
Whatever I said in that letter, before I posted it, seemed so huge. But when you come out the other side, now your brain—instead of receiving fear—sees “Oh, shit happened and nothing happened.” Brain says, “Self, I’m fine.” I look around, and I’m touching my fucking limbs, and I’m good. Before anybody called me and said congratulations or anything nice, it had already changed. It wasn’t from outside. It was completely in here, in my head.

Did you worry it would derail your career?
I had those fears. In black music, we’ve got so many leaps and bounds to make with acceptance and tolerance in regard to that issue. It reflects something just ingrained, you know. When I was growing up, there was nobody in my family—not even my mother—who I could look to and be like, “I know you’ve never said anything homophobic.” So, you know, you worry about people in the business who you’ve heard talk that way. Some of my heroes coming up talk recklessly like that. It’s tempting to give those views and words—that ignorance—more attention than they deserve. Very tempting.

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