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Frank Ocean: Bio and Origins of the R&B Singer

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born October 28th, 1987 in Long Beach, California, Frank Ocean began making music while growing up in New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career and started writing songs for other artists. Ocean soon joined hip hop group OFWGKTA and broke out on his own after releasing his first mixtape. Following his confession of having feelings for another man, Ocean's first full-length album, 'Channel Orange,' dropped in 2012 and was a critical and commercial success. In this video, takes a look at the musical origins of Frank Ocean.

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He’s been thinkin’ bout you, do you think about him still? Welcome to, and today we’re taking a look at the musical origins of Frank Ocean.

Growing Up

Christopher “Lonny” Breaux was born October 28th, 1987 in Long Beach, California and grew up in New Orleans. The music of the city inspired him to listen to an eclectic group of artists, and motivated him to scrounge up enough money for studio time to record his own material.

Hurricane Katrina

Shortly after he registered at the University of New Orleans, tragedy struck: Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005 and destroyed Breaux’s recording studio in the process. The aspiring artist relocated to Los Angeles and began to develop connections in the music industry.

Songwriting Deal

His recorded demos eventually landed him a deal as a songwriter. This led to work with various producers, and song-writing gigs for big name acts like John Legend, Brandy and Justin Bieber.

Odd Future

He soon joined hip hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All in 2009. That same year, record producer Tricky Stewart helped Breaux book his own contract with Def Jam Recordings. In 2010, he legally changed his name to Christopher Francis Ocean.

First Mixtape

The Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape was self-released under the name Frank Ocean the next year. Ocean earned praised for this R&B effort thanks to his song-writing ability and smooth delivery. Despite being categorized as a mixtape, it later found its way onto multiple album of the year lists, and its lead single “Novacane” was hailed by many as the year’s best song. In addition, the video accompanying the single “Swim Good” received several MTV Video Music Award nominations.


Hype was quickly building around the artist. He was soon featured in fellow Odd Future member Tyler, The Creator’s music video for “She.” Ocean also performed live for the first time at 2011’s Coachella Valley Music Festival and toured with his band during this period.

More Songwriting

While working on his full-length debut, Ocean continued writing songs for other artists, such as Bridget Kelly and Beyoncé. He also collaborated with rap superstars Kanye West and Jay-Z on their 2011 joint album, Watch The Throne.

Open Letter

A few days before the release of his highly anticipated 2012 studio record, Ocean posted an open letter on his blog confessing to having fallen in love with another man when he was a teen. This revelation of homosexual feelings was a daring move for an artist in the urban music scene, as such topics were usually shunned or considered taboo. However, Ocean’s admission was met with major support from a host of artists and professionals.


Channel Orange was a critical and commercial success upon its release, selling over a 100 thousand copies and landing at the second spot of the Billboard 200 in its first week. The R&B and neo soul disc included the singles “Sweet Life,” “Pyramids” and Ocean’s highest charting single to that point, the top 40 track “Thinkin Bout You.”

Original R&B Style

With an eclectic style that is original and bright, Frank Ocean is a breath of fresh air in the R&B genre. He has set himself apart with his music and song-writing, and is a true inspiration for those who may be afraid to admit who they really are.

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