December 30, 2013 via Pepsi
Frank Ocean: Five Things To Know
Frank Ocean emerged at a time in music where image seemed to trump content. Acts—whether they be solo or groups—engaged in a flawed game of show-and-tell in which they attempted to demonstrate mastery simply by explaining all of the “excess” that comes along with being in the business. Ocean’s poignant and refreshing take was a breath of fresh air for music lovers who were growing tired of the status quo and longed for a reliable orator for more universal topics. Despite still being in the early stages of his career, Ocean compiled an impressive catalog of songs ranging from mixtape classics to more introspective numbers pulled from channel ORANGE. Despite living his life in the public sphere, Ocean managed to keep an air of mystery about him. Here are five things you may not know.
1. He politely turned down the opportunity to have Kanye West on channel ORANGE.
Despite lending his voice to “No Church in the Wild” and “Made in America” from Jay Z and Kanye West’s collaborative project Watch the Throne, Ocean decided that he didn’t need West’s services on his debut album. In an interview with Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1, he told the host that “I said, 'As much as I want to work with you…I kind of want to do this without you. I kind of want this to be done without you. I kind of want to do it on my own.'"
2. He got his start as a songwriter for other artists.
Before he struck out on his own, Frank Ocean honed his own chops penning songs for other artists like Justin Bieber, John Legend, Brandy, Jamie Foxx, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé.
3. James Ryan Ho, better known as Malay, had a major impact on his career.
Serving as the producer, writer and engineer on 13 songs from channel ORANGE, Malay and Ocean were first introduced through their publisher. In speaking about their work relationship with Complex he commented, “I met him before the whole Frank Ocean thing years back. At the time both of us were kind of writing little one-offs here and there. We did some Mario and John Legend records—just little placements here and there. I met him when I was in Atlanta.”
4. His cover of Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing” and The Eagles’ “Hotel California” had drastically different feelings from the original artists.
Chris Martin was so impressed with Ocean’s rendition of “Strawberry Swing” that he invited him on tour to be a part of their European leg of shows. Conversely, Ocean’s “American Wedding”—a melodic twin to “Hotel California”—was met with utter disdain. An Eagles legal representative released a statement saying, “Frank Ocean did not merely 'sample' a portion of the Eagles' 'Hotel California,' he took the whole master track, plus the song's existing melody, and replaced the lyrics with his own. This is not creative, let alone 'intimidating.' It's illegal.”
5. He goes by “Lonny” to friends.
Despite the name change that took him from Christopher Breaux to Frank Ocean, The Fader reports that he is merely known as Lonny to close friends.