When Frank Ocean dropped Blonde — his second album in three days — it was released under his own label, Boys Don’t Cry.
It turned out it was Ocean’s first independent release, and Endless, the visual album released two days before, was his final on Def Jam.
In a New York Times interview released Tuesday, Frank detailed the process in which he was able to free himself of the Def Jam deal. (He called the negotiations “a seven-year chess game.”)
“With this record in particular, I wanted to feel like I won before the record came out,” he said. “And I did, and so it took a lot pressure off of me about how the record even would perform after the fact. Once the goal is met, everything else is lagniappe. It’s not essential for me to have a big debut week, it’s not essential for me to have big radio records.
He also discussed how much he cares about his sales. He said they help direct him on what he could’ve done differently and where he will tour to promote the album more.
“I know exactly what the numbers are. I need to know. I need to know how many records I’ve sold, how many album equivalents from streaming, which territories are playing my music more than others, because it helps me in conversations about where we’re gonna be playing shows, or where I might open a retail location, like a pop-up store or something.”
Speaking on the sales for Blonde:
“Well, we doubled “Channel Orange” first week. I’m always gonna be like, “We could have done a little bit better.” I guess there’s a satisfaction that comes with looking at numbers like that, and I’m making, like, No Limit-type of equity, Master P-type of equity on my record.”
Ocean also talked about his decision to not enter any of his albums into GRAMMY consideration.
“That institution certainly has nostalgic importance,” he said. “It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.” He continued: “I think the infrastructure of the awarding system and the nomination system and screening system is dated. I’d rather this be my Colin Kaepernick moment for the Grammys than sit there in the audience.”
He’s also still highly ambitious.
“I believe that I’m one of the best in the world at what I do, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. It’s more interesting for me to figure out how to be superior in areas where I’m naïve, where I’m a novice.”
Read the full interview on the New York Times.