GQ was able to catch up with Frank Ocean, and members of his group, Odd Future, for their December Men of The Year issue. Inside, the singer models the season’s best sports coats before sitting down for a little Q&A. The newcomer talks coming out, being raised by his single mother, and not wanting to be labeled or put into a box.
On being raised by his mother and grandfather after his father left them when he was six:
I haven’t seen him since. And for a while, you know, we were not middle-class. We were poor. But my mom never accepted that. She worked hard to become a residential contractor—got her master’s with honors at the University of New Orleans. I used to go to every class with her. Her father was my paternal figure. He’d had a really troubled life with crack, heroin, and alcohol and had kids he wasn’t an ideal parent to. I was his second chance, and he gave it his best shot. My grandfather was smart and had a whole lot of pride. He didn’t speak a terrible amount, but you could tell there was a ton on his mind—like a quiet acceptance of how life had turned out. He was a mentor at AA and NA, and I would go with him to meetings.
On meeting Odd Future:
I was at a real dark time in my life when I met them. I was looking for just a reprieve. At 20 or 21, I had, I think, a couple hundred thousand dollars [from producing and songwriting], a nice car, a Beverly Hills apartment—and I was miserable. Because of the relationship in part and the heartbreak in part, and also just miserable because of like just carting that around. And here was this group of like-minded individuals whose irreverence made me revere. The do-it-yourself mentality of OF really rubbed off on me.
On his coming out letter:
The night I posted it, I cried like a f*cking baby. It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head. All the receptors were now receiving a different signal, and I was happy. I hadn’t been happy in so long. I’ve been sad again since, but it’s a totally different take on sad. There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.
On being afraid that coming out would derail his career:
I had those fears. In black music, we’ve got so many leaps and bounds to make with acceptance and tolerance in regard to that issue… Some people said, ‘He’s saying he fell in love with a guy for hype.’ As if that’s the best hype you can get in hip-hop or black music. So I knew that if I was going to say what I said, it had to be in concert with one of the most brilliant pieces of art that has come out in my generation. And that’s what I did. Why can I say that? Why I don’t have to affect all this humility and shit is because I worked my ass off. I worked my face off. And the part that you love the most is the easiest part for me. So I’ll do it again.
On whether or not he considers himself bisexual:
You can move to the next question. I’ll respectfully say that life is dynamic and comes along with dynamic experiences, and the same sentiment that I have towards genres of music, I have towards a lot of labels and boxes and shit. I’m in this business to be creative—I’ll even diminish it and say to be a content provider. One of the pieces of content that I’m for f*ck sure not giving is porn videos. I’m not a centerfold. I’m not trying to sell you sex. People should pay attention to that in the letter: I didn’t need to label it for it to have impact.
Read the full interview here, and post your thoughts!