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Frank Ocean: From Humble Beginnings to Rising Stardom

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2012 was big year for Frank Ocean.  Coming off from a highly successful run as a rookie artist, Ocean ended the year with a debut album, 6 Grammy nominations, and a coming out story to inspire those following in his footsteps.

Christopher Breaux was born October 28, 1987 in Long Beach, California.  At the age of 5, his family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where he became immersed in the world of jazz.  Christopher would spend his time working many small, neighborhood chores to earn money to rent studio time.  But when Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, his music career in New Orleans came to a grinding halt.  Christopher packed his backs and moved to Los Angeles in hopes of pursuing his art there.

After several years in LA and a career writing songs for artists such as John Legend and Justin Bieber, Christopher soon found himself as a member of hip-hop group, Odd Future, and eventually a solo record deal with Def Jam Recordings.  In 2010, Christopher Breaux had a revelation.  Christopher says he felt that we weren’t defined by our names and, thus, if you don’t like your name, you should change it.  That year, Frank Ocean was born.

In February 2011, Frank Ocean released his first mixtape, nostalgia, ULTRA, which received critical acclaim.  However, not all was smooth-sailing for the rising hip-hop artist.  There was much controversy when Don Henley of The Eagles accused Ocean of re-appropriating the music from “Hotel California” onto Ocean’s track “American Wedding”.  There was never a lawsuit and the scandal eventually died out.

Ocean released his debut studio album, entitled Channel Orange, in July 2012.  The album was met with much success earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album, Album of the Year, and Record of the Year for “Thinkin Bout You”.  He was also nominated for Best New Artist and twice for his work with Jay-Z and Kanye on their Watch the Throne album.

Shortly before he released his debut album, Frank Ocean took to his tumblr blog and wrote a confession to his fans.  The open letter told of his first love at the age of 19 to a young man.  Frank Ocean quickly became one of the most talked about artists and was commended for openly accepting and embracing his sexuality in an industry that was so often homophobic.  His confession created a wave of LGBT supporters coming out in the open, including Tyler, the Creator.

While he hasn’t won his Grammys yet, Frank Ocean is well on his way to make an important impact, both musically and politically.

Mackenzie is an Alabama native attending NYU and studying Journalism and Dramatic Literature. She hopes to one day live in London and write for the BBC.