Christopher Francis Ocean (born Christopher Breaux October 28, 1987), is an American singer, songwriter and rapper. Ocean started his career as aghostwriter for artists such as Damienn Jones, John Legend, Justin Bieber, andBrandy.
In 2010, he became a member of alternative hip hop collective OFWGKTA also known as Odd Future, and his debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, was released to critical acclaim in 2011. The singles "Novacane" and "Swim Good" both achieved chart success. In 2012, Ocean finished second place in the BBC'sSound of 2012 poll. His debut studio album, Channel Orange, was released in July 2012 to critical acclaim and was promoted with three charting singles: "Thinkin Bout You", "Pyramids", and "Sweet Life".
Ocean became one of the first mainstream African-American music artists to announce that he had once fallen in love with someone of the same sex. Ocean's music has been characterized by music writers as idiosyncratic in style.
Ocean was born Christopher "Lonney" Breaux on October 28, 1987, in Long Beach, California to parents Calvin Edward Cooksey and Katonya Breaux When he was around five years old, he and his family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.
He grew up around its local jazz scene and listened to his mother's CDs on her car stereo, including albums by Celine Dion, Anita Baker, and The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. As a teenager, he did neighborhood chores and saved up money to rent studio time. As he recalled, "Oh man I had numerous hustles [...] Washing cars was one of them, and mowing lawns and walking dogs." In Louisiana, Ocean attended John Ehret High School and later enrolled in theUniversity of New Orleans and moved into its dormitory in 2005. Shortly after enrolling in the university, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and he transferred to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
2005–11: Career beginnings
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit Ocean's hometown of New Orleans and his recording facility was destroyed by floodwater and looting. To continue recording music, he moved to Los Angeles and intended to stay for just six weeks but decided to stay longer and develop his music career after establishing contact with people in the music industry. He recorded some demos at a friend's studio and shopped them around Los Angeles. After getting a songwriting deal, he started working with other record producers and wrote songs for artists such as Justin Bieber, John Legend, Brandy, and Beyoncé. Ocean later said of his work at the time, "There was a point where I was composing for other people, and it might have been comfy to continue to do that and enjoy that income stream and the anonymity. But that's not why I moved away from school and away from family."He has also worked with artists such as Nas and Pharrell Williams. Ocean joined Los Angeles-based hip hop collective Odd Future, whom he had met in 2009. His friendship with Odd Future member Tyler, The Creator reinvigorated Ocean's songwriting. In late 2009, he met Tricky Stewart, who helped him sign a contract with Def Jam Recordings as a solo artist.
On February 18, 2011, Ocean released his first mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, to critical acclaim. The mixtape focuses on interpersonal relationships, personal reflection and social commentary. NPR's Andrew Noz said Ocean's songwriting is "smart and subtle...setting him apart from the pack." Rolling Stone magazine's Jonah Weiner wrote that Ocean was a "gifted avant-R&B smoothie". In April 2011, Ocean stated that his relationship with Def Jam strengthened since the release of the mixtape. The mixtape made Ocean widely known and led to his collaborations with rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West. Ocean first appeared in Tyler, The Creator's music video for the single "She", from Tyler's second studio album Goblin (2011). His first performance was in collaboration with Odd Future at the 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where he later joined them for their first tour across the east coast of the United States. On May 19, 2011 Ocean's record label Def Jam announced its plans to re-release Nostalgia, Ultra as an EP. The single 'Novacane' was released to iTunes in May 2011, and the EP originally was set to be released the next month, but was delayed.
In June 2011, Ocean revealed that he would work on the upcoming Kanye West and Jay-Z collaborative album, Watch the Throne. Ocean co-wrote and featured on two tracks: "No Church in the Wild" and "Made in America". On July 28, 2011, a song titled "Thinkin Bout You" leaked on the internet. It was later revealed the song was a reference track, written by Ocean, for Roc Nationartist Bridget Kelly's debut studio album. Kelly renamed the song 'Thinking About Forever'. In September 2011, a music video directed byHigh5Collective for Ocean's version was released, yet the song still appeared on Kelly's debut EP Every Girl. In August 2011, Frank Ocean made his first appearance on the cover of the publication The FADER, in its 75th issue.