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Frank Ocean on the Music Business: ‘You’re Going to Be… Deflowered’

Notoriously press shy star gives a new interview, and explains why and how artists should protect themselves from the commodification of their work

Frank Ocean performs at the 2017 Panorama Music Festival on Randall's Island in New York on July 28, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS        (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

Frank Ocean performs at the 2017 Panorama Music Festival on Randall's Island in New York on July 28, 2017.

Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Frank Ocean‘s contempt for the music industry is Shakespearian in its scale and complexity. The singer’s infrequent interviews are often mystifying, so brief and controlled that they’re often meaningless, but his weathered hatred for the music business is a comforting constant. In Gayletter’s latest cover story, Frank explained the abstract ways artists can protect themselves by comparing the industry to being violated.

“Well, fucking with major music companies, you’re going to be… deflowered,” Ocean said. ‘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.”

“I don’t know about purity. It depends on what you want,” he continued. “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. Then you may get to a point in your experience where you become disillusioned with those things.”

Ocean’s contentious relationship Def Jam is well-documented. Tricky Stewart helped sign the young R&B act, but admitted to The Fader in 2016 that the move was a “disaster” and that “the label wasn’t motivated by the signing.” With the release of Endless, Ocean was free of his obligation to Def Jam, buying back his masters and releasing Blonde independently. It’s clear he’s still holding a grudge.

 

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