Frank Ocean, shown during a 2011 performance at the El Rey Theatre in Los… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
Add "unorthodox release scheduling" to the many reasons why Frank Ocean is likely the most exciting artist in music right now. In an interview with the BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe, the avant-R&B singer-songwriter attested that the sudden appearance of his album "Channel Orange" on iTunes a week before its scheduled release on July 17 was no accident.
"It was actually the plan all along," he told Lowe on Thursday, according to MTV."I kinda wanted to mirror what ... Jay and Kanye did with 'Watch the Throne,' preventing the leak by staggering digital and physical dates."
Album leaks can preemptively steal thunder from a major release, so Ocean joined his peers West and Jay-Z in beating pirates to the punch by putting it online before its official in-store date. "Watch the Throne" famously hit iTunes three days ahead of schedule for the same reasons.
PHOTOS: Gay Celebrities — who's out?
Preventing leaks was such a priority for his label Def Jam that not even Ocean has handled a physical copy, he told Lowe. ""I haven't even held one in my hands...I'm actually still designing the package for vinyl. The physical [CDs] are done, but when we sent them in, they were locked down at the manufacturer. They haven't left. They never went on trucks [to stores] because that's where things leak."
The early reception for "Channel Orange" -- and for Ocean's unexpected revelation that his first serious romance was with another man -- has been uniformly positive, with a knockout performance of his single "Bad Religion" on Jimmy Fallon's TV show leading up to his album-release set on the 17th at the Wiltern.
Target stores won't stock Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange" album
Critic's notebook: Frank Ocean's album is bigger than 'he'
Late Night: Frank Ocean wows in TV debut on 'Jimmy Fallon'
Frank Ocean's talent and sexuality could push musical boundaries