Frank Ocean is notorious for maintaining a low and mysterious profile, but the singer has now risen for his first interview in years. He spoke to the New York Times for a candid chat, where he opened up about leaving Def Jam, independently releasing his Blonde album and why he decided to not submit any music for Grammys consideration.
“That institution certainly has nostalgic importance," the two-time Grammy winner said. "It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.”
He continued, “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated. I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.” Last month, friend and collaborator Kanye West said he won't attend the awards show if they don't nominate Ocean. But it was already known the singer wasn't eligible for any nominations due to the purposeful snub.
When asked about self-releasing Blonde after fulfilling his Def Jam contract, Ocean said:
With this record in particular, I wanted to feel like I won before the record came out, and I did, and so it took a lot pressure off of me about how the record even would perform after the fact. Once the goal is met, everything else is lagniappe. It’s not essential for me to have a big debut week, it’s not essential for me to have big radio records.
Ocean also admits that he had writer's block for a year after the success of 2012's Channel Orange, saying the spell was broken when he reconnected with a friend from New Orleans that “made me feel as though I should talk about the way I grew up more.”
The artist also dives into why he left Los Angeles, feeling regret for not performing at certain awards shows and possibly moving on from music in the future. “I believe that I’m one of the best in the world at what I do, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be,” he revealed. “It’s more interesting for me to figure out how to be superior in areas where I’m naïve, where I’m a novice.”
Click here to read the NYT interview in full. And below, watch an interview with Frank Ocean backstage at the 2013 BRITs: