Black History Month: Frank Ocean

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Black History Month: Frank Ocean

Dennis Cox, Reporter

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The Stanley Kubrick of music. The Beethoven of R&B. The brilliant ghostwriter-turned-musician. Frank Ocean is one of the most influential and secretive artists of this generation. His debut album “Channel Orange” has been certified Gold in the US and shot Ocean into the company of success and genius in the musical atmosphere.

Ocean would go on to release a visual album, “Endless”, and his second studio album, “Blonde.” His widespread critical acclaim grew significantly throughout the years, and his impact on the world of music is still growing with every innovative musical release; but Ocean’s secretive nature has managed to keep much of his true identity and influence in the dark, leaving one question burning in the public mind: Who is Frank Ocean?

Christopher Lonny Edwin Breaux was born in Long Beach, Cali. on Oct. 28, 1987. Breaux would later move with his parents to New Orleans, La.

Breaux grew up fascinated with music. In 2005, he enrolled at the University of New Orleans for music studies, but after Hurricane Katrina he was forced to move to University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Breaux travelled to California after his recording studio was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and he planned to stay for six weeks. However, after making connections around Los Angeles and securing a songwriting deal, Breaux ended up staying indefinitely.

In 2009, Breaux joined the Hip-Hop collective Odd Future due to his friendship with Tyler, The Creator.  Later that same year, Breaux signed a deal with Def Jam Recordings.

On Feb. 16, 2011, Christopher Breaux released his first mixtape, “Nostalgia, ULTRA”, under his pen-name: Frank Ocean. The collection of songs introduced the beautiful storytelling riddled with emotional symbolism that would become synonymous with the name: Frank Ocean.

On Dec. 27, 2011, the media was in a frenzy about Ocean. The frenzy was not focused on his musical artistry, though. The public was frantic. On his Tumblr account, Ocean posted a statement titled “thank you’s.”  

The post was a vulnerable burst of emotion. Ocean told the story of a first love. The romantic storytelling was not unusual for Ocean, but the people were chaotic because his first love was a man.

Frank Ocean was not the first Hip-Hop/R&B artist to come out as a member of the LGBT community, but he was one of the most prominent modern artists to announce something so bold. The community rushed to his side to support him.

Now, not everyone approved of  Ocean’s bisexuality. He certainly received a fair amount of hate; but the strength and courage that he exemplified with his personal assurance sent a message of acceptance throughout the world.

In 2013, a year after Ocean released his debut album, he legally changed his name from Christopher Lonny Edwin Breaux to Christopher Frank Ocean.

Three years later, Ocean released “Endless”, a visual album that fulfilled his contract with Def Jam. He followed up with a concept album: “Blonde”. Blonde went on to be certified Platinum.

At 31 years old, Frank Ocean is far from done. His wonderful mind continues to work and create new conceptual music, and his self-pride sets a gold standard for personal value.  

“There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.”

– Christopher Frank Ocean