Photo Credit: Adam Blyweiss
Associated Press is reporting via a “person familiar with the situation,” Frank Ocean was in fact released from his contract with Def Jam and Universal Music Group before he released the visual album Endless and his proper sophomore LP Blonde last month. Initially reports indicated that the release of Endless was a ploy to allow Ocean to skirt around his contractual obligations with UMG and that the label had grounds to file a lawsuit against the singer.
The source describes the relationship between Frank Ocean and his former label as a “bad marriage,” and the label decided to terminate their partnership because of this discord. According to the anonymous source, the contract “was not going to work out” without disclosing the number of albums Ocean had left on his contract. ‘
“I’m sure there was some kind of negotiation in order for him to get out of the contract if there were remaining commitments on the contract,” the anonymous source speculated about the talks that went into the decision between the two sides to part ways. The two parties decided that the follow-up to Channel Orange would be his final for the label. That album ended up being Endless, which is only available via Apple Music and individual tracks cannot be purchased, and is generally a less commercially-viable release.
According to AP, the label was surprised by the release of Blonde the day after Endless hit the market. Blonde features guest appearances from Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and many other high-profile stars. It has been referred to as “real album,” the true successor to Channel Orange. The record ended up debuting at the number one spot on the Billboard 200 charts. That UMG missed out on the success of the album surely fueled some of the speculation that the label would file a lawsuit.