FRANK OCEAN, born on this date, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, rapper, photographer, and visual artist. He is recognized for his idiosyncratic musical style, introspective and elliptical songwriting, and wide vocal range. Music critics have credited him with revitalizing jazz and funk influenced R&B, as well as advancing the genre through his experimental approach.He is considered a representative artist of alternative R&B.
Ocean began his musical career as a ghostwriter, prior to joining the hip hop collective Odd Future in 2010. In 2011, Ocean released his critically successful debut mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra and subsequently secured a recording contract with Def Jam Recordings. Drawing on electro-funk, pop-soul, jazz-funk, and psychedelia, Ocean’s debut studio album Channel Orange was one of the most acclaimed albums of 2012. It was nominated for Album of the Year and won Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards, while the album’s hit single “Thinkin Bout You” garnered Ocean a nomination for Record of the Year.
Ocean wrote an open letter, initially intended for the liner notes on Channel Orange, that preemptively addressed speculation about his attraction in the past to another man. Instead, on July 4, 2012, he published the open letter on his Tumblr blog recounting unrequited feelings he had for another young man when he was 19 years old, citing it as his first true love. He used the blog to thank the man for his influence, and also thanked his mother and other friends, saying, “I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alright. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore… I feel like a free man.” Numerous celebrities publicly voiced their support for Ocean following his announcement, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Members of the hip hop industry generally responded positively to the announcement. Tyler, the Creator and other members of OFWGKTA tweeted their support for Ocean. Russell Simmons wrote a congratulatory article in Global Grind in which he said, “Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we? […] Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear.” When asked if he considers himself bisexual in a 2012 interview, Ocean stated: “I’ll respectfully say that life is dynamic and comes along with dynamic experiences, and the same sentiment that I have towards genres of music, I have towards a lot of labels and boxes and shit.”
In June 2016, following the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 49 people, Ocean published an essay expressing his sadness and frustration. He mentioned that his first experience with homophobia and transphobia was with his father when he was six years old, and related how many people pass on their hateful ideals to the next generation and send thousands of people down suicidal paths. In 2017, Ocean’s father subsequently sued him for defamation and requested $14.5 million. In October 2017, after a hearing that saw Ocean and both of his parents taking the stand, the presiding judge ruled in favor of Ocean, stating that his father had not provided sufficient evidence of defamation.