Frank Ocean covers the new issue of Gayletter. The mag, which ships next month, includes his first full interview with a journalist since promoting Blonde. In a wide-ranging chat, Ocean reveals that he’s in a three-year relationship, taking French lessons, and occasionally tunes in to TV—“Chef’s Table,” “Handmaid’s Tale,” Yara Shahidi’s “Grown-ish”—that isn’t MSNBC. He also takes the opportunity to address a case of online misrepresentation: “My Wikipedia says I’m 5’10”, but I’m 6’1”,” he jokes. “So listen, we have to correct the kids on my height. It’s really affecting my future, blocking my shine.” Read the interview on Gayletter.
For the first time, Ocean talks in depth about the label compilations surrounding the release of Endless and Blonde. “I was trying to close out this label situation I had going on,” he says of his relationship with Universal-owned Def Jam, the label that eventually released Endless but not Blonde. “And also my Apple deal, which all eventually happened. Some of those things—particularly the Universal thing—was taking forever.”
He adds that he was “so high-strung over the record and all the business shit around it, the magazine [Boys Don’t Cry] was a reprieve. It stopped me from feeling like my life was on pause because of those things. It made me feel like my life was very much being fully experienced.” He also jokingly disputes ASAP Rocky’s version of his label woes in a Hot 97 interview this year, joking that he told him, “‘Rocky, I think we gotta review the CliffsNotes of that situation because you got a couple parts a little fucked up.’”
Ocean goes on to elaborate on his relationship with the industry. “Fucking with major music companies, you’re going to be… deflowered,” he says. “Anytime you get into the business side of the arts, there has to be some degree of objectification or commodification that you’re comfortable with, of yourself and of your work…. A lot of people I talk to about careers in the music industry, their ideas of success have to do with nostalgia. They have to do with tropes of success, things they’ve been shown over the years that represent what a successful career is. I think that helps you become prey, because somebody can manipulate you with those things.”
He also discusses the philosophy of songwriting alone—“If I’m working on lyrics, I might as well be in a vacuum-sealed container”—versus collaborating: “Sometimes the energy of having an audience, even if they don’t say shit, that adrenaline or whatever that is. Which is probably a good cocktail of performance-enhancing chemicals that make you a tiny amount more on point than when you’re totally relaxed and at ease…. It’s a little more risky; it’s like, Oh shit, what if I make a fool of myself? I gotta be on point.”