Frank Ocean upended hip-hop when he came out earlier this year, redefining what keeping it real really means in 2012. Now, in a long, revealing interview with Amy Wallace for GQ's Men of the Year issue, posted online today, Ocean reveals how he came to coming out — and the long road from writing hit singles while making fast-food subs to planning on his own arcade while riding hit record sales. Just don't ask him to label himself as bisexual.
Ocean's songs are full of California references, but he grew up primarily in New Orleans to a single mother and her recovering-addict father. "We were not middle-class. We were poor," Ocean says in a clarifying moment for anyone who thought his song "Super Rich Kids" described his own upbringing. After Hurricane Katrina hit, Ocean scrimped and saved his sheatrocking earnings, leaving for Los Angeles with $1,100 cash on hand to build his music career. He reveals that before being tapped to write songs for artists like Justin Bieber and John Legend, he was still working crummy odd jobs. "I worked at Kinko's, Fatburger, Subway—I was a sandwich artist—and I was a claims processor at Allstate Insurance," he says.