Frank Ocean, the rising R&B singer behind the single “Novacane” and the self-released album “nostalgia, ULTRA,” which critics called among the best of 2011, announced on his Tumblr page Wednesday that his first love was a man.
Ocean’s Def Jam debut, “Channel Orange,” isn’t due for two weeks, but the album has had Twitter abuzz for days, writes Los Angeles Times.
Ocean previewed the highly anticipated disc for press, attention shifted to his sexuality after one blogger’s brief mention that when he sings about love on a number of tracks he uses “him” as opposed to “her.”
“With all the rumors going round.. i figured it’d be good to clarify..,” Ocean wrote.
“In the last year or 3 I’ve screamed at my creator, screamed at the clouds in the sky, for some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna somehow.”
“4 summer ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost… Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping,” Ocean wrote.
He added: “I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore… Thanks to my first love, I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was… I feel like a free man. If I listen closely… I can hear the sky falling too.”
Earlier this week, CNN’s Anderson Cooper acknowledged that he was gay.
But the revelation from the 24-year-old Ocean, who is part of the hip-hop collective Odd Future and was prominently featured on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” album, is noteworthy because he inhabits the world of rap, where anti-gay sentiments have long been part of the regular vocabulary.
According to The Huff Post, Tyler the Creator, a rapper who is also part of Odd Future and has been fiercely criticized for his use of anti-gay lyrics in songs, took to Twitter to congratulate Ocean.
Tyler writes: “F**king Finally Sus Boy @frank_ocean Hahahaha, You Still Aint Got No Bitches Hahaha My N***a Dawg” and “My Big Brother Finally F***ing Did That. Proud Of That N***a Cause I Know That S**t Is Difficult Or Whatever.”
Ocean has a new album, “Channel Orange,” coming out July 17.
Ocean played the disc for a small group of music reporters on Thursday at Los Angeles’ Capitol Records.
“This will take about an hour of your life,” Ocean said before focusing on the control board and bobbing his head to the album, a stellar kaleidoscope of atmospheric beats, lush harmonies and those complex narratives he’s known for.
“It’s a bad religion, to be in love with someone who can never love you,” he muses over an organ on “Bad Religion,” one of the track’s catching attention along with the Andre 3000-assisted “Pink Matter” and the album’s wrenching closer “Forrest Gump,” where he sings of a boy he once knew.
“You’re running on my mind, boy,” Ocean offers on the track.
With more and more celebrities coming out of closet, and doing it with less and less fanfare, the hip hop community continues to struggle with homophobia.
At the same time, gay-friendly artists like Nicki Minaj and Fat Joe and openly queer artists like Azealia Banks and Ocean are proving that the things may be changing.