Born and Raised:
Real name: Christopher "Lonny" Breaux.
Born: Oct. 28, 1987 in Long Beach, California, but moved to Louisiana as a child. He was raised primarily in New Orleans, then moved to the Los Angeles area in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.
The man who would eventually become known as Frank Ocean grew up loving music and began singing as a child. He grew up listening to both R&B and New Orleans jazz, and was a fan of such '80s artists as Anita Baker, whom his mother was a fan of. By the time he was a teenager, he had decided to become a singer, and began to work on songs for a demo. During this time, he worked odd jobs, including mowing lawns and washing cars to earn money to finance his music venture. In 2005, he enrolled in the University of New Orleans and had recently moved into his dorm when Hurricane Katrina struck in August of that year. The storm, along with looters, eventually wiped out the facility he'd been recording music at, which led to him relocating to Los Angeles to continue pursuing his dream.
After arriving in Los Angeles, Ocean recorded more demo songs and began to shop them around. During his travels around the L.A. music scene, he landed a songwriting deal that led to him writing material for John Legend
, among others. In 2009, he met and befriended members of the hip-hop group collective commonly known as Odd Future and began to work with them as the group's lone singer. That same year, Ocean signed a deal as a solo artist with the Def Jam label, partially at the recommendation to fellow songwriter Christopher "Tricky" Stewart. For the next two years, he worked with Odd Future on various mixtapes and official releases, while also being groomed by Def Jam for the release of his debut album.
By late 2010, Ocean's relationship with Def Jam had become strained and in early 2011, he self-released a mixtape/EP called Nostalgia, Ultra. Although not an official release, the mixtape gained widespread notoriety, and his label eventually took notice and released two of the songs as singles, "Novacane" and "Swim Good." Plans were also made to Nostalgia, Ultra. through official channels, but the project didn't come to fruition, partially because of difficulty clearing samples used on some songs, most significantly rock band The Eagles' refusal to allow the instrumental version of their 1977 hit "Hotel California" be used, which Ocean did without clearing it on the mixtape song "American Wedding."
Ocean eventually recorded a new album, Channel Orange
, with released planned for mid-2012. Days before the album's release, critics receiving early copies began to write about the lyrics of some songs, which referenced male-male romantic relationships in the lyrics, rather then the traditional male-female roles. In response to rumors that he could be gay or bisexual, Ocean posted an open letter on his website stating that when he was 19, he fell in love with a man and that the two had spent two summers together. His revelation came as a surprise to many, but he also received support from his music industry peers, some of whom he had worked with in the past, including Beyonce
. When Channel Orange
was released, it included two songs that were expressly about loving or lusting after a man, "Bad Religion" and "Forrest Gump."
"4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Every day almost, and on the day we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I'd see him, and his smile. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. -- Frank Ocean, revealing details about his sexuality on his Tumblr blog, July 4, 2012.