New Orleans artist Frank Ocean makes waves in hip-hop with Tumblr announcement

New Orleans artist Frank Ocean makes waves in hip-hop with Tumblr announcement

POSTED: Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 4:00pm

UPDATED: Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 4:40pm

New Orleans-based artist Frank Ocean (Christopher Breaux) is making waves in the world of hip-hop.

"I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean," Russell Simmons, founder of the hip-hop record label Def Jam, wrote on the site Global Grind.

Simmons’ is referencing Ocean’s post on Tumblr about the summer when he fell in love with a man.

"We spent that summer, and the summer after, together," Ocean wrote. "Every day almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I'd see him, and his smile.

"Sleep I would often share with him," Ocean continued. "By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with."

Hip-hop has long been scrutinized for over emphasis of sexuality; in particular, the demoralizing of women by male performers. In fact, Ocean was a member of the hip hop collective Odd Future – a group that has been scrutinized by women’s rights organizations for its aggressive lyrics towards women as well as homophobic notions. Odd Future founder Tyler The Creator seems to be embracing Ocean’s announcement. 

Tyler tweeted that he was “proud” of Ocean because he knows that the announcement was “difficult.”
"Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear," Simmons added.

Others are backing the young artist as well.

Writer Dream Hampton wrote on Jay-Z's site Life & Times: "You shared one of the most intimate things that ever happened to you -- falling in love with someone who wasn't brave enough to love you back. Your relieving yourself of your secret is as much about wanting to honestly connect as it is about exhibition. We are all made better by your decision to share publicly."

Terrance Dean, author of the 2008 book "Hiding in Hip-Hop: On the Downlow in the Entertainment Industry from Music to Hollywood," penned an open letter regarding Ocean.

"I actually have been awaiting the day, counting down the hours and minutes as to when one of my friends, or past lovers, would be brave enough to come forward and make a public announcement (My inhale continues to expand)," Dean said. "But, it wasn't one of them. No. It was someone younger. Much braver. An artist who isn't hindered by the old relics of Hip Hop, or the entertainment school of, 'Don't you come out or it will ruin your career,' and the record label politics."

Frank Ocean is currently signed with Def Jam Records. His debut solo album “Channel Orange” will be released on July 17, 2012. 

--Contributions to this report were provided by CNN’s Lisa Respers France.

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