On this day five years ago, Frank Ocean released his meticulously crafted, unhurried second studio album, Blonde in 2016. On the cover, it says "blond," and the title on streaming platforms is "Blonde," which are the masculine and feminine versions of blonde in French. Frank uses both forms to represent his duality in masculinity and femininity.
A multi-year journey that began in 2013, Blonde was recorded internationally, in Abbey Road Studios in London, New York, Tokyo, and Paris. Ocean flew out the industry's top instrumentalists, producers, and collaborators, running over the $2 million dollar advance Def Jam provided in order to complete the album.
Wanting to stay out of the public eye, fans were left with cryptic clues and relied on leaked updates, building hype and anticipation for Frank's follow up album. On August 19th, 2016, Frank Ocean finally released his visual project Endless, exclusively on Apple Music, fulfilling the contractual obligation under his Def Jam contract. Ocean also payed back his $2 million dollar advance prior to the release, in order to retain control of any future recordings.
On August 20th, one day after Endless was released, Frank Ocean released Blonde, a 17-track album Def Jam knew nothing about, under his own independent label, "Boys Don't Cry." Frank reportedly received a $20 million dollar payout to exclusively release Blonde through Apple Music, making $1 million in the first week alone – much more than he would have made under contract at Def Jam.