Associated Press: Def Jam Released Frank Ocean From Contract Early
The rumored Frank Ocean vs. Def Jam saga took a new twist on Friday, as Associated Press reported that the label let Ocean out of his record contract early.
Ocean released two albums within days of each other in August. At midnight on Friday, Aug. 19 he dropped Endless, a visual album that is only available on Apple Music as a video stream. The next day he released Blonde, a full-length album that debuted on Apple Music and iTunes but appeared on other streaming services in the weeks afterward.
The FADER reported that Ocean slyly used Endless - an album that isn't available for purchase, as individual songs or as a whole - as a way to fulfill his contract with Def Jam. Rumors of his discontent with the label go back as far as 2011, when he released Nostalgia, Ultra as a mixtape against Def Jam's wishes. Reports said that Ocean wanted to release Blonde - which debuted at no. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts - on his own terms.
But according to Associated Press, Def Jam released Frank Ocean from his contract before Endless and Blonde were even available.
An anonymous source compared Ocean and Def Jam's irritable relationship to a "bad marriage," and said that heads at the label knew that "it wasn't going to work out."
"He didn't want to be on a label. He wanted to do his own thing," the source told Associated Press. "...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 story still reports that Endless was released through Def Jam, and that the label was surprised by the subsequent release of Blonde. But according to this story, the relationship had ended before this.