As enigmatic and reclusive as Frank Ocean can be, don’t get it twisted, the singer-songwriter is a powerful commercial force in the music industry. Even more so now that he’s an independent artist.
Born Christopher Edwin Breaux, he came up up as a songwriter under the name Lonny Breaux, where he helped pen songs for high-profile artists like Justin Bieber, Beyonce, John Legend, and Brandy. During this time, he cultivated a relationship with Tyler, the Creator and subsequently joined the Los Angeles-based hip hop collective Odd Future.
In late 2009, after adopting the stage name, Frank Ocean, he signed with Def Jam. But after feeling neglected by the label, he began working on his own mixtape and released it for free online in 2011. Nostalgia, Ultra was received with critical acclaim and established Frank Ocean as an instant household name.
After listening to the mixtape, Kanye invited Frank to contribute to Watch the Throne, where he appeared on the Grammy-award winning “No Church in the Wild” and “Made in America.” Shortly afterwards, Frank Ocean would release his debut album, Channel Orange, in 2012 which debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, selling 131,000 copies in its first week. In more recent years, he has since parted ways from Def Jam and has been releasing music via his independent label, Boys Don’t Cry.
From his 2012 debut album, Channel Orange, to his latest release, 2016’s Blonde, here are the rankings for Frank Ocean’s first week album sales.
Released: July 10, 2012
Label: Def Jam
First week album sales: 131,000
Billboard 200 position: 2
Singles: “Thinkin Bout You”, “Pyramids”, “Sweet Life”, “Lost”, “Super Rich Kids”
Features: Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, the Creator, André 3000, and John Mayer.
Released on July 10, 2012 after the acclaim of his 2011 mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, Frank Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange was a highly anticipated drop. Preceded by the singles “Thinkin Bout You”, “Pyramids” “Sweet Life”, the album also featured guest appearances from Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, the Creator, André 3000, and John Mayer.
Released: August 20, 2016
Label: Boys Don’t Cry
First week album sales: 275,000
Billboard 200 position: 1
Features: André 3000, Yung Lean, Jazmine Sullivan, Amber Coffman, Beyoncé, and Kim Burrell.
After making a play to become an independent artist by giving Def Jam the visual album, Endless, Frank Ocean dropped Blonde via his own label the very next day. More abstract and experimental than his previous work, the album was nevertheless a critical and commercial success. Featuring guest vocals from André 3000, Beyoncé, and Kim Burrell, Blonde topped the Billboard 200 with 275,000 units sold in the first week.