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Six things we learned from GQ's Frank Ocean interview

Image credit: Peggy Sirota / GQ

2012’s been a busy year for Frank Ocean. The R&B singer released Channel Orange, a game-changing record that debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200. He played high-profile gigs at the MTV Video Music Awards and Saturday Night Live. He opened up about a failed romance with a man on his Tumblr.

Now the Odd Future affiliate, who was born Lonny Breaux, has spoken to GQ about his humble upbringing in New Orleans, his rapid ascent to stardom, and the post that could have potentially derailed his career. Here’s what we learned:

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On the scene at New York's 'I'll Be Your Mirror' Festival Day 1: Frank Ocean, Philip Glass, and more

Image Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

My editor warned me that All Tomorrow’s Parties – I’ll Be Your Mirror, the revered itinerant indie festival taking place in New York this weekend, would be a little unusual.

“There will be some women there,” she said, “but not many.”

And glancing over the lineup, she had a point. Curated in this edition by Greg Dulli of ’90s garage-rock heroes the Afghan Whigs — past curators include Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, My Bloody Valentine, Modest Mouse, and even Simpsons creator Matt Groening —  the festival looked heavy on, well, obscure mid-‘90s garage rock.

Scrawl, Lightning Bolt, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – not surprisingly, I expected an audience of bearded men drinking microbrews. I was not disappointed.

It had the makings of a memorable (or insufferable) weekend: a young, eager music writer (I’m 23) watching many bands he’d never heard of, surrounded by old dudes who knew way, way more than me.

Held at Pier 36, a new entertainment complex on the Lower East Side right on the East River, the setup featured two stages: one inside the mammoth, carpeted auditorium, and the other in the parking lot, directly beneath the FDR highway. Friday’s comedians were quick to take note of the location. READ FULL STORY

Frank Ocean says he'll bring John Mayer to SNL

And thus the rumor mill grinds on.

Odd Future alum and breakout R&B star Frank Ocean tweeted earlier that John Mayer will join him for his performance on SNL’s season opener this Saturday.

Though Mayer’s recent headlines have focused more on his hair and his love life than his music, the rocker did collaborate with Ocean on Channel Orange‘s “White.”

SNL hasn’t confirmed Ocean’s claim, but I’d be willing to bet that the premiere (hosted by Seth McFarlane) packs a few surprises.

Read More:
‘Saturday Night Live’ welcomes three new faces
Fall TV: Comedy We’re Tuning In For
VMAs 2012: Best/Worst Performances

Target won't sell Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange'

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A lot of people are hopped up on Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, but Target is not one of them.

The retail giant had been planning on stocking the physical album back when everyone thought the crooner’s debut would be released July 17. But when Team Ocean coordinated an early iTunes release of the album last Monday, Target had a change of heart.

And Ocean’s manager Christian Clancy was none too happy about it. Clancy went to his Twitter account to vent, writing: “Target has refused to carry Frank’s album because of iTunes exclusive. Interesting since they also donate to non-equal rights organizations.”

Clancy was likely referring to past donations the Minneapolis-based company made to a political organization that supported Tom Emmer, a right-wing politician who unsuccessfully campaigned to become Minnesota’s governor back in 2010. Still, it’s doubtful that Target’s reasoning had anything to do with Ocean’s partial coming-out letter: as many have pointed out, Target not only carries albums from a number of LGBTQIA artists (Adam Lambert and Elton John, to start), but they also sell Gay Pride t-shirts.

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Def Jam: Early release of Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange' part of original marketing plan

Odd Future fans who had July 17 marked on their calendars got a pleasant surprise late last night.

Not only did sudden headline-maker Frank Ocean make his television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, but there was also a surprise announcement: the hotly anticipated Channel Orange would be streaming online for the next 24 hours on Ocean’s Tumblr, as well as for sale on iTunes. The album, which fans thought wouldn’t be available until next Tuesday, became the No. 1 album on iTunes within the hour.

And according to Def Jam, that was all part of Channel Orange‘s unusual marketing strategy.

It all began in June, when Ocean mysteriously announced via teaser trailer that the album would be coming out by July. That left a relatively short period of time for promotion, but Team Ocean made the most of it. Just within the past week, the buzz spiked when Ocean opened up about his sexuality mere days before his cover profile in last Sunday’s New York Times Arts & Leisure section.

When asked Sunday night whether Ocean’s semi-coming out affected the album’s marketing plan, Def Jam president Joie Manda told EW in an e-mail, “Absolutely not. You have to understand that Frank’s letter last week was in NO WAY intended to impact the marketing of this record. Like all things with Frank, it was a carefully measured, very personal decision.”

Manda said then that the label’s “plans remain the same: to support Frank Ocean’s creativity and artistry and allow him the freedom to continue building the very special relationship he’s cultivated with his fans.”

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