After Frank Ocean released two albums within 48 hours of each other last month — the chart-ineligible visual album Endless via Def Jam followed by the more conventional, #1-debuting Blonde as a self-release — the scuttlebutt was that Ocean had kept Blonde a secret from Def Jam and that this deception in fulfilling his contract might end up getting him sued by Def Jam’s parent company, Universal. According to a new Associated Press report, it gets even juicier.
According to the AP’s anonymous source, Ocean’s Def Jam contract originally required him to deliver more than two albums to the label, but the label agreed to let him out of his deal early, essentially so they wouldn’t have to put up with him anymore. The source described Ocean’s partnership with the label as a “bad marriage” that “wasn’t going to work out” because “he didn’t want to be on a label. He wanted to do his own thing.” The source did not specify how many albums Ocean originally owed Def Jam, but said, “I’m sure there was some kind of negotiation in order for him to get out of the contract if there were remaining commitments on the contract.”
The AP’s report lends credence to a Billboard story from earlier this week about Ocean’s search for a physical distributor for Blonde, which alluded to bad blood between Ocean and Def Jam:
Some, however, may not want to work with Ocean — no matter how many records he sells — because of how difficult it is to deal with him. One executive who has worked with him in the past says that if Ocean is looking for a home, he’d pass; and if his label’s fiercest rival was considering making a deal with Ocean, he would do everything in his power to help make that happen.
I feel like there’s a good “Solo” pun to be made here, but it’s closing time on Friday afternoon, so I’ll leave that to y’all.