Frank Ocean Carried Hard Drives With Him for Years to Stop "Blonde" From Leaking

It was incredible that Ocean's hugely anticipated album didn't leak, and now we know why.
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It was incredible that Ocean's hugely anticipated album didn't leak, and now we know why.

When we covered Frank Ocean's very rare interview with The New York Times, the focus was on Ocean's boycott of the GRAMMYs, and for good reason. But as Andy wrote in that original DJBooth article, Jon Caramanica's profile of Ocean contains a multitude of gems that deserve your attention, and here's the jewel that really grabbed my eye:

When Blonde and Endless were being recorded, he carried the hard drives with him in backpack, and the backups too: 'I'd rather the plane goes down in flames and the drives go down with me than somebody put out a weird posthumous release." - Jon Caramanica, New York Times

That's right, for years before the album was released Ocean obsessively carried around hard drives of his music, much of which wouldn't make the final project, even to the point of refusing to check them in his luggage during plane rides. 

Over the past few years new music from Ocean became a Holy Grail, and leaking his album would have served as a championship ring for any enterprising hacker. It's not paranoid to believe that thousands of people were doing everything they could to get their sweaty digital hands on Mr. Ocean's music—hell, the one snippet we heard before the release was from someone who recorded through a locked door—but incredibly Ocean kept his vault sealed right, and now we know why. It wasn't a vault at all, but a backpack he never let out of his sight. 

One of the unintentional benefits of the streaming age is that leaks have been cut down dramatically. With no need to have factories making CDs a month ahead of release date, albums are only leaking a day or two early, if at all, but Ocean's successful security strategy is a reminder than in the digital age the only sure way to keep complete control is through some good old fashioned backpack action.

If only Kanye had followed that advice, we could have avoided the whole sex laptop scandal....


By Nathan S, occasional keyboard hitter and beard maintainer. This is his Twitter.

Photo Credit:StraightFromTheA