Name at birth: Christopher Breaux
Frank Ocean is the smooth tenor whose 2012 R&B album channel ORANGE put him in the spotlight as a star hip-hop collaborator, with critics comparing him to Marvin Gaye and Prince. He broke into the business as a songwriter for other performers, including Brandy, Justin Bieber and John Legend. He moved from New Orleans to Los Angeles in 2005 and began recording his own mixes as Lonny Breaux, eventually joining the music collective called Odd Future (co-founded by rapper Tyler the Creator). He was signed by Def Jam records in 2009 and recorded the album nostalgia ULTRA, but it wasn't released until 2011. By that time Breaux had changed his name to Christopher Francis Ocean and was recording as Frank Ocean. Critics loved nostalgia ULTRA and heaped praise on Ocean's soulful storytelling, and fans loved songs like "Novacane." Ocean also got noticed by big-name artists, including Beyoncé, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Andre 3000 and Pharrell Williams. His second album, channel ORANGE, was released in July of 2012 and shot to the top of the charts on the strength of songs such as "Bad Religion" and "Thinkin Bout You." At the same time, Ocean revealed that some songs of unrequited love were directed to a man he had once been in love with.