Rihanna may own the cover of GQ‘s Men Of The Year issue, but Frank Ocean owns the inside pages. It’s only fitting considering that the crooner is ending 2012 as a household name — still riding the wave of his Channel Orange success, rocking Coachella, the VMAs, kicking off this season of SNL and providing a soundtrack for Gossip Girl in less than 12-months’ time. Below, see Frank looking quite dapper (even without his signature bandana) and read as the singer/songwriter opens up to the men’s mag about coming out, the advice John Mayer (attempted) to give him and about that time he was a sandwich artist.
On moving to Los Angeles: “I was only supposed to be there for six weeks. I don’t feel like I ever made a conscious decision to stay six years. You just kind of roll. The first four and a half years was me in the studio every day, writing songs for other people. I had jobs, too—eleven jobs. I worked at Kinko’s, Fatburger, Subway—I was a sandwich artist—and I was a claims processor at Allstate Insurance.
On Def Jam trying to “resign” him: “I just told them, ‘Give me $1 million if you want the next album.’”
On acceptance in the music industry: “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. It reflects something just ingrained, you know. When I was growing up, there was nobody in my family—not even my mother—who I could look to and be like, ‘I know you’ve never said anything homophobic.’ So, you know, you worry about people in the business who you’ve heard talk that way.”
On his coming out letter: “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 saywhat 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.”
The advice John Mayer gave him: “…he was like, ‘You love to take the hardest way. You don’t always have to.’ …We all know we have a finite period of time. I just feel if I’m going to be alive, I want to be challenged—to be as immortal as possible. The path to that isn’t an easy way, but it’s a rewarding way.”
On meeting Odd Future: “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.”