Frank Ocean on sitting out the Grammys: “I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment"

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The Independent US

In a rare, must-read interview with the New York Times, Frank Ocean gave his first proper interview following the release of Endless and Blonde. Over the course of two days, the elusive singer-songwriter explained his desired exile from the public eye, why he regrets performing at major awards shows and his seven-year chess game to end his record deal with Def Jam. There’s also an amazing story about fans yelling out from inside Uber cars to ask when his new album would be released. Check the highlights from the Times interview below.

 

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Why he’s skipping the Grammys:

That institution certainly has nostalgic importance. 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.

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.

Why he released Blonde to end his contract with Def Jam:

With this record [Blonde] 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.

Why he regrets performing at awards shows:

Certain moments were drawbacks for sure. Now I look at things differently, but at the time, yeah. Audiences in excess of five million people [on national TV]. I was always reluctant to do those things except in cases where they had this nostalgic significance to me. Like performing at the VMAs, being tapped to perform at the Grammys—me saying yes to those things had a lot to do with how those things made me feel before I was actually in the business. And just wanting to be rubbing shoulders with those people and being seen at those places. I still was reluctant and sort of skeptical of those things because I questioned whether or not I was prepared.

And why he works so hard to maintain his mystique:

Sometimes I’m fascinated with how famous my work could be while I’m not so famous. Super-envious of the fact that Daft Punk can wear robot helmets and be one of the most famous bands in the world, while also understanding that will never be my situation. It’s too late. It’s hard to articulate how I think about myself as a public figure. I’ve gotten used to being Frank Ocean. A lot of people stopped me on the street when I hadn’t put music out in a while, literally would yell out of an Uber, “Frank, where the album?”

Read Frank's full interview with the New York Times here.