When Frank Ocean dropped his debut album Channel Orange in 2012, he had no idea what impact it would have on music. He didn’t even know how many people would listen to it. “I don’t think I ever thought about how big it could be,” he told Billboard magazine in 2013. “All I knew was that I wanted to make something special.”
The singer/songwriter/producer spent five years crafting his second studio album, Blonde, and it took him three tries to release it. After releasing multiple mixtapes in the interim, he finally put out Endless, a double LP featuring 17 songs, on June 8, 2017.
While the record was met with critical acclaim, it still wasn’t clear just how popular it would be. When Blonde debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, it seemed like a fluke. But the following week, Endless moved up to No. 1, marking the first time a full-length project topped the charts since Adele’s 21 did so in 2011.
Since then, Ocean hasn’t slowed down. In addition to releasing Endless II, a sequel to Endless, he’s been working on followup projects including the soundtrack to director Jordan Peele’s horror film Us, which came out earlier this month, and the long-awaited visual album Endless Oceans.
Ocean grew up in New Jersey, where he attended high school in nearby Toms River, NJ. He began playing guitar around age 14. In his early teens, he played in several bands including “The Skaters”, “The Punks”, “The Hype”, and “The Dudes”. At age 16, he moved to Los Angeles, California, to pursue music full-time. While living there, he joined the band “Lagwagon”. After Lagwagon disbanded, he formed another band called “Blank Face Milk Paint” with former Lagwagon drummer Joel Hamilton. They recorded their debut EP, titled “Ride Like This”, in 2003.
In 2004, Ocean left Blank Face Milk Paint, and he went on to form the indie rock group Broken Bells with fellow musician James Mercer. Their self-titled album was released in 2008. Following its release, they toured extensively across North America and Europe.
On September 11, 2009, Ocean announced via Twitter that he had signed with Def Jam Recordings. His debut single, “Thinkin’ Bout You”, was released on November 24, 2009. The song debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became Ocean’s first number-one hit. On January 13, 2010, Ocean released his second single, “Supernatural.”
After signing with Def Jam, Ocean began working on
In 2006, Ocean moved to L.A. to pursue his music career. His first major success came in 2009, with the release of “Thinkin Bout You,” featuring singer Erykah Badu. After releasing several singles without much commercial success, Ocean signed a record deal with Def Jam Recordings in 2010.
Ocean began recording his debut album, Channel Orange, in late 2010 and early 2011. During this period, he worked with producers such as Pharrell Williams, Ryan Tedder, and Noah Shebib.
He announced the completion of the album on May 4, 2011, tweeting that it was finished and that he’d been listening to it while driving around Los Angeles. On July 26, 2011, he released the single “Nights.”
On August 23, 2011, Ocean performed live at Lollapalooza, performing songs off his upcoming album. On September 13, 2011, he released another single, titled “Super Rich Kids”.
On October 16, 2011, Ocean released the third single from his debut album, titled “Pyramids”, followed by the fourth single, “Novacane” on November 8, 2011. On December 14, 2011, Ocean released a free download of his song “Forrest Gump”, accompanied by a video directed by Spike Jonze.
The following day, Ocean released his fifth single, “Sweet Life”, along with a music video. On January 12, 2012, he released the sixth single, “Pink + White”.
On January 27, 2012, Ocean released his seventh single, “Bad Religion”, along with a music videos. On February 9, 2012, he released his eighth single, “Swim Good.”