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How Frank Ocean Built a Career on His Own Elusive Terms

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And once they were released, he let them live on their own and speak for themselves. Rather than the usual promo tour, he opted to explore the world for a month. “China, Japan, Oceania, France, just around,” he said. “Casual.”

In their wake, his indifference towards the industry machine calcified further. Whereas with channel ORANGE, he played the game and submitted for Grammy nods—though he only agreed to perform at the 2013 ceremony if he could play the song of his choosing, deep cut “Forrest Gump”—this time around, he didn’t bother. 

“Like performing at the V.M.A.s, being tapped to perform at the Grammys — me saying yes to those things had a lot to do with how those things made me feel before I was actually in the business. And just wanting to be rubbing shoulders with those people and being seen at those places. I still was reluctant and sort of skeptical of those things because I questioned whether or not I was prepared,” he told the NYT, adding of the Grammys, in particular, “That institution certainly has nostalgic importance. 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.”

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