Fri 6 Jul 2012
Frank Ocean was definitely the most talked about artist this week in the music world. His extremely brave and courageous “coming out of the closet” was the Tumblr post read around the world. Frank’s touching letter had members of both sexes feeling all emo and gushy inside (so I was told, haha). Everyone from Russell Simmons to Dream Hampton have publicly shown their support to Mr. Ocean. Most recently, Complex’s Brad Wete spoke to Frank’s musical counterpart, Maylay, who serves as his co-writer and producer. Together, they worked closely on the Channel Orange project. While he pretty much declined to speak in detail on Franky’s decision, Maylay admits it was a surprise to even his inner circle.
“I don’t think anyone during any given point during the creative process knew what was happening, because the thing that’s so brilliant about what Frank does is, like on “Forrest Gump,” when he’s singing maybe from a female perspective or whatever, it’s a story, it’s a world that he created.” –Malay, Frank’s co-writer and producer.
Frank’s mother also tweeted her support:
“My son is brave and honest and I am very proud of him. I wish more people in the world could be brave enough to be who they really are. Thank you to all who have shown love and support. My son is the most incredible human I know. Honest, true and loving. We appreciate you!” –@Katonya
This whole situation reminds me of one of my homeboys from college, Norman, who was an aspiring singer at the time. When I first moved to NYC for school, they threw all the freshmen into a tiny coed dorm in the Financial District of Manhattan. As you know, the city is open as hell and home to many, many homosexual dudes. A lot of whom are undercover for various reasons. At the time, for me, interacting with gay guys was mad foreign, and I wasn’t even sure If I was comfortable with it. It wasn’t that I really had anything against homosexuality but growing up in a small town in Jersey, I was just limited in being around openly gay people. In fact, I’m not going to lie and act like my group of HS friends, who were mostly jocks and stoners, didn’t throw around the word f*g on the regular. We used it in place of the word, “b*tch” or “p*ssy,” when trying to slander another dude. It wasn’t until I got to know Norman after a few weeks of living on the same floor and going to the bar together with the rest of our floor-mates that I realized how cool he was. I think we bonded more than the other kids because we were both from neighboring towns in NJ, loved hip-hop and were Asian (well, he’s half Japanese and Black). He was also afraid to come out to his parents and close friends, for fear of being judged and outcast-ed. I totally got it. His mother was a conservative Japanese immigrant and father a strong militant Black man, who still talked about his days in the Navy as if they happened days ago.
On Tuesdays, we had remedial math together (bad Asians), and after we would always hit the cafeteria for chicken fingers and homemade honey bbq sauce, then go back to my room for a blunt session (yea, I was the pusha back then so our stash was unlimited) and to yap about our daily problems as two new kids in a big city. He mostly bitched about how hard it was for him to be an undercover gay man and how much he envied my life. I always came back with ‘but dog you can f*ckin sing better than John Legend and all the chicks fuck with you! People just hit me for trees!’ He made points about my life being so much more carefree, and he thought that I was actually the ideal son his parents always wanted. He told me he wished he could be straight mad times, which I didn’t really understand at the time. But now, as I’ve matured a great deal from a 18-year-old to a 26-year-old, and been a witness to how much of a big deal sexuality is in the entertainment world, I can really feel the pain and anxiety he must have been going through. I salute Frank and hope Norman is now living as the same way Mr. Ocean does. FREE.
Maylay elaborates on working with Frank…
Frank’s mother speaks out…
Def Jam’s president issues a public statement…
Dream Hampton and various journalists weigh in on this historical “event”…
All after the jump…
Complex: As you guys were writing together, were there ever any discussions over the use of genders in the songs? On “Forrest Gump” he sings to a guy. And this week he blogged about his first love being a man. Did you know his music would reflect that?
Maylay: First, I just want to say that I don’t want to speak about anything involving his sexuality preferences or that aspect of it, just because in this process we’ve become very close on a friendship level. I believe the reason I got involved so early and wanted to stick with it is a belief in his artistry. I feel like he’s the new hybrid of what an MC used to be in the ‘80s or ‘90s. He’s the true storyteller.
I don’t think anyone during any given point during the creative process knew what was happening, because the thing that’s so brilliant about what Frank does is, like on “Forrest Gump,” when he’s singing maybe from a female perspective or whatever, it’s a story, it’s a world that he created.
It’s not necessarily his personal—like something that he’s experiencing. Maybe it is and it’s a metaphor the way he did it, but I’m just saying once you heard the record you could tell he’s so good at creating these entire worlds from some of the songs. That being said, I don’t think at any point anyone has ever questioned where his intentions were and I think that’s why his songs connect so well.
Def Jam’s president also made a public statement on Frank’s “coming out”
“Yesterday was an important day for all of us. Frank Ocean is an amazing artist and a more amazing man. The courage he displayed in his beautiful and eloquent letter was touching on many levels. Frank broke down a wall that should never have been built. The overwhelming show of support from his peers was awesome and inspiring. Island Def Jam is so proud to stand beside Frank Ocean – the artist and man – now and always.” –Joie Manda. President of Def Jam Records
From around the Internets, Frank Supporters speak out:
- Frank Ocean’s Mother Supports Her Son
- Dream Hampton’s Touching Words
- Russell Simmons Shows His Support
- NY Times’ Jon Caramonica Weighs In: Frank Ocean ‘Creating His Own Gravity’
- Complex’s Brad Wete: What Does Frank Ocean Coming Out Mean For Him And For Black Music?
- The Well Versed’s Andreas Hales: Frank Ocean Is Not Singing Songs, Just To Sing The Songs
- VIBE’s Tracy Garraud Gives Her Opinion As a Strong Bisexual Black Woman and NYC Journalist
- Necole Bitchie Writer Jasfly: To Be Perfectly Honest, Frank…
Bonus: Pharrell Calls Frank The “Black James Taylor” [Interview by Mikey Fresh] (from 2011)
Independence Day: Frank Ocean Confirms Bisexuality With a Heartfelt Letter
Frank Ocean Serenades at Coachella 2012 Debut (Full Video)
Revisiting Frank Ocean’s “Forrest Gump” Coachella Debut: “Running ‘Round My Mind, Boy”
Tyler Causes Fan Frenzy During Frank Ocean’s Coachella Set (Video)