Signing Frank Ocean to Def Jam was a “disaster,” says the music exec, Tricky Stewart, who discovered him.
Earlier this week it was confirmed that the release of Ocean’s debut visual album Endless marked the end of his obligations to the hip-hop label and now the producer, who signed the 28-year-old singer to Def Jam, has revealed the relationship between the artist and company was terrible since 2009.
“Frank came in with the best intentions of being a great artist to a label. He was looking at it with an open mind. But bringing him into Def Jam was a little bit of a disaster.
“It was probably, in hindsight, a huge mistake on my part. The label wasn’t motivated by the signing. They didn’t give him the respect that I thought he deserved. I couldn’t really get Def Jam to respond to him the way the way that I wanted them to respond to him,” he said.
Stewart admitted Ocean attempted to alert him to the lack of interest in his work when he came to him and said, “The label is not supporting me.”
However, the music exec believes Ocean — who was allowed to release his new album, Blonde, independently earlier this month — took the power out of Def Jam’s hands by being vocal about their treatment of him and thinks other artists will follow suit.
“At the end of the day, I think Def Jam created a monster that they couldn’t control. He just treated them how he was treated. There’s too many artists out here with that story. Luckily for Frank, he was able to turn a negative time and a negative period into something that worked for him and his family.
“This is a changing of the guard. This story has got to make label people wake up and realize that they have great talent on their label,” Stewart said to website Fader.
Ocean released a new single “Nikes” from the his latest album last week and other credits on the record include, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, James Blake, Jamie xx, Rick Rubin, and Tyler the Creator.