Tricky Stewart Talks Def Jam’s Initial Reaction To Frank Ocean: “Trick You’re Losing It”
Frank Ocean went through great lengths to free himself from his Def Jam contract by releasing visual album Endless a day early so he could drop Blond independently. While Frank himself hasn’t spoken on the situation, producer Tricky Stewart — the man who brought him to Def Jam — provides some new insights into the artist and label’s contentious relationship.
“At the end of the day, I think Def Jam created a monster that they couldn’t control,” he says to The FADER. “He just treated them how he was treated.”
Exactly how did Def Jam treat Frank Ocean? To start, Tricky thought that bringing the singer-songwriter to the label would be a breeze. After all, he was on a hot streak thanks to his work with The-Dream, Justin Bieber and Rihanna, among others. He was wrong.
“They told me, ‘Trick you’re losing it.’ I was told, ‘This shit is old R&B.’ I was like, ‘This isn’t old R&B. This is new hip-hop. These are the kids that the hip-hop generation are having, with his wordplay. This ain’t the same old shit.’ But it slipped through the cracks.”
Remember, after changing his name legally from Christopher Breaux to Christopher Francis Ocean, Frank released nostalgia, ULTRA in 2011. “i. did. this. not ISLAND DEF JAM,” he tweeted at the time. Meanwhile, Tricky says that, not only was Def Jam unaware of the release, but the label didn’t even know he changed his name. Def Jam would only call Frank three weeks later.
“There’s too many artists out here with that story,” Tricky says. “Luckily for Frank, he was able to turn a negative time and a negative period into something that worked for him and his family. This is a changing of the guard. This story has got to make label people wake up and realize that they have great talent on their label.”
Read his entire as-told-to interview at The FADER.