In the days between posting a complex coming-out note on his Tumblr and the night when he dropped his sparkling major label debut just a few days later, Frank Ocean didn’t do much, if any, talking about himself. Even as controversy surrounding the album’s physical release swirled, he still wasn’t particularly loquacious. But as is most always the case, enigmatic acts by the most buzzworthy stars eventually get explained and Ocean’s most forthcoming new interview surfaced over the weekend in Saturday’s issue of the Guardian. The central question of the conversation: Why lay yourself on the line so radically right before your album drops?
“I knew that I was writing in a way that people would ask questions,” he explains of the excellent album’s subject matter. “I suppose a percentage of that [post] was because of altruism; because I was thinking of how I wished at 13 or 14 there was somebody I looked up to who would have said something like that, who would have been transparent in that way. But there’s another side of it that’s just about my own sanity and my ability to feel like I’m living a life where I’m not just successful on paper, but sure that I’m happy when I wake up in the morning, and not with this freakin’ boulder on my chest.”
As for being worried about the consequences that could stem from the “risky” choices he’s made, however, R&B’s most promising Prince disciple waxes rational, if not perhaps a little commencement speech-y as well.
“People are just afraid of things too much,” he says. “Afraid of things that don’t necessarily merit fear. Me putting [my first album nostalgia, ULTRA] out [without Def Jam’s knowledge, for free] … what’s physically going to happen? Me saying what I said on my Tumblr last week? Sure, evil exists, extremism exists. Somebody could commit a hate crime and hurt me. But they could do the same just because I’m black. They could do the same just because I’m American. Do you just not go outside your house? Do you not drive your car because of the statistics? How else are you limiting your life for fear?”