Wait, everyone know who Frank Ocean is, right?

Actually, no.

Sure, he dominated the 2012 year-end best albums lists, and is entering the 2013 Grammys with a leading six nominations, including nods for best album and best new artist as well as two for singing the indelible hook on Kanye West and Jay-Z's "No Church In The Wild." But Ocean's album "Channel Orange" has only sold 500,000 records and he's simply not a well-known name.

Yes, I know you love Frank's debut "Channel Orange," but your mom probably thinks he's Billy Ocean's son. Before you get out of this article and into our car, let me explain.

As serious music fans, we can get blinded by the fact that just because everyone we know is familiar with a musician or band, it doesn't mean the mainstream is. This was made crystal clear at the Grammys two years ago when Arcade Fire picked up an armload of awards, including Album of the Year, inspiring a chorus of "Who Is Arcade Fire" tweets and status updates (which were eventually gathered into this brilliant Tumblr). And they'd sold about a million copies of "The Suburbs," which was their fourth release.

So let's do some background on Grammy's golden boy.

Frank Ocean first came to the music world's attention in 2010 as a member of Odd Future, a controversial L.A. hip-hop collective best known for button-pushing rape jokes and homophobic slurs as well as mosh pit-crazed live shows. Ocean stood out immediately from his brethren by being older, saner and an R&B singer rather than a rapper. But the popularity of Odd Future amongst both hip-hop fans and the indie intelligentsia gave Ocean an immediate audience.

He'd started out in his New Orleans hometown, but moved to Los Angeles after his home studio was flooded and looted during Katrina. In L.A. he established a career as a ghostwriter for the likes of Justin Bieber and John Legend, but in 2011 he released a free mixtape called "Nostalgia, Ultra" which landed a surprise hit in "Novacane," a song that, much like fellow avant-R&B artist The Weekend, recounts sex and drugs debauchery, albeit with infinitely more regret. In it Ocean namechecked the hipster nation's favourite festival Coachella, and by the following year he was a main draw (backed by Canadian hip-hop instrumentalists, BadBadNotGood).

The mixtape made it to Kanye and Jay-Z, who brought Ocean onto their smash "Watch The Throne" album to sing the hook on a couple tunes, including the aforementioned Grammy-nominated single "No Church In The Wild" as well as "Made In America." He also started writing for Beyonce.

Then last summer, just before Ocean's major label debut "Channel Orange" dropped, the singer posted the album liner notes to Tumblr, an open letter to his fans which recounted the first time he fell in love. It was with a man.

Ocean's hand was forced somewhat by music critics who had heard the new album at listening parties and noticed the use of unexpected pronouns. But the reaction to Ocean's honesty was incredibly positive, including from across the notoriously homophobic hip-hop world and, especially, his Odd Future friends who made it clear this was not news to them.

The album came out to widespread acclaim, particularly for songs like the single "Thinkin Bout You," the eight-minute experimental ballad "Pyramids" and "Super Rich Kids," a genius collab with Odd Future MC Earl Sweatshirt. His performance of "Bad Religion" on Jimmy Fallon went viral and his subsequent tour sold out immediately.

When the 55th annual Grammy Awards nominations were announced, Ocean nabbed nominations in Best New Artist, Record of the Year for "Thinkin Bout You," Album of the Year and Best Urban Contemporary Album for "Channel Orange" and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Long Form Music Video for "No Church In The Wild."

The combination of commercial success, critical acclaim and social progressiveness will be a hard one for Grammy voters to pass up. You never can tell, given the academy's history of undeserving nominees and winners, but it looks like Ocean should be returning home from the Staples Center with an armload of Grammy Awards, including even Best Album.

In which case, all the "Who Is Frank Ocean?" tweets will begin to fly and you can just point people right over here to answer their questions. And, hopefully, by the next time Ocean releases a classic album, nobody will be wondering if he's related to Billy.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Carrie Underwood

    Country Solo Performance - "Blown Away" Best Country Song - "Blown Away"

  • Frank Ocean

    Record of the Year - "Thinkin Bout You" Best New Artist Album of the Year - "Channel Orange" Best Urban Contemporary Album - "Channel Orange" Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - "No Church In The Wild" by Jay-Z & Kanye West Featuring Frank Ocean & The-Dream

  • fun.

    Best Pop Vocal Album - "Some Nights" Record of the Year - "We Are Young" Best New Artist Album of the Year - "Some Nights" Song of the Year - "We Are Young" Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - "We Are Young"

  • The Black Keys

    Record of the Year - "Lonely Boy" Album of the Year - "El Camino" Best Rock Performance - "Lonely Boy" Best Rock Song - "Lonely Boy" Best Rock Album - "El Camino" Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical - Dan Auerbach

  • Mumford & Sons

    Album of the Year - "Babel" Best Rock Performance - "I Will Wait" Best Rock Song - "I Will Wait" Best Americana Album - "Babel" Best Song Written For Visual Media - "Learn Me Right (From Brave)" Best Long Form Music Video - "Big Easy Express"

  • Jack White

    Album of the Year - "Blunderbuss" Best Rock Song - "Freedom At 21" Best Rock Album - "Blunderbuss"

  • Kelly Clarkson

    Best Pop Vocal Album - "Stronger" Record of the Year - "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" Best Pop Solo Performance - "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)"

  • Gotye

    Record of the Year - "Somebody That I Used To Know" Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - "Somebody That I Used To Know" Best Alternative Music Album - "Making Mirrors"

  • Taylor Swift

    Record of the Year - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" Best Country Duo/Group Performance - "Safe & Sound" Best Song Written For Visual Media - "Safe & Sound (From The Hunger Games)"

  • Blake Shelton

    Country Solo Performance - "Over"

  • Ronnie Dunn

    Country Solo Performance - "Cost of Livin" Best Country Song - "Cost Of Livin'"

  • Eric Church

    Country Solo Performance - "Springsteen" Best Country Song - "Springsteen"

  • Dierks Bentley

    Country Solo Performance - "Home"

  • Hunter Hayes

    Best New Artist Country Solo Performance - "Wanted" Best Country Album - "Hunter Hayes"

  • The Lumineers

    Best New Artist Best Americana Album - "The Lumineers"

  • Alabama Shakes

    Best New Artist Best Rock Performance - "Hold On"

  • Florence + The Machine

    Best Pop Vocal Album - "Ceremonials" Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - "Shake It Out"

  • Maroon 5

    Best Pop Vocal Album - "Overexposed" Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - "Payphone"

  • P!nk

    Best Pop Vocal Album - "The Truth About Love"

  • Adele

    Best Pop Solo Performance - "Set Fire To The Rain [Live]"

  • Carly Rae Jepsen

    Song Of The Year - "Call Me Maybe" Best Pop Solo Performance - "Call Me Maybe"

  • Miguel

    Song Of The Year - "Adorn" Best R&B Performance - "Adorn" Best R&B Song - "Adorn" Best Urban Contemporary Album - "Kaleidoscope Dream"

  • Ed Sheeran

    Song Of The Year - "The A Team"

  • Katy Perry

    Best Pop Solo Performance - "Wide Awake"

  • Rihanna

    Best Pop Solo Performance - "Where Have You Been" Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - "Talk That Talk" Best Short Form Music Video - "We Found Love"


    Best Pop Duo/Group Performance - "Sexy And I Know It"

  • Avicii

    Best Dance Recording - "Levels"

  • Calvin Harris

    Best Dance Recording - "Let's Go"

  • Skrillex

    Best Dance Recording - "Bangarang" Best Dance/Electronica Album - "Bangarang" Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical - "Promises (Skrillex & Nero Remix)"

  • Swedish House Mafia

    Best Dance Recording - "Don't You Worry Child"

  • Al Walser

    Best Dance Recording - "I Can't Live Without You"

  • Steve Aoki

    Best Dance/Electronica Album - "Wonderland"

  • The Chemical Brothers

    Best Dance/Electronica Album - "Don't Think"

  • Deadmau5

    Best Dance/Electronica Album - "> Album Title Goes Here <"

  • Kaskade

    Best Dance/Electronica Album - "Fire & Ice"

  • Michael Bublé

    Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album - "Christmas"

  • Carole King

    Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album - "A Holiday Carole"

  • Paul McCartney

    Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album - "Kisses On The Bottom" Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package - "Ram - Paul McCartney Archive Collection (Deluxe Edition)" Best Historical Album - "Ram - Paul McCartney Archive Collection (Deluxe Edition)"

  • Coldplay

    Best Rock Performance - "Charlie Brown" Best Rock Album - "Mylo Xyloto"

  • Bruce Springsteen

    Best Rock Performance - "We Take Care Of Our Own" Best Rock Song - "We Take Care Of Our Own" Best Rock Album - "Wrecking Ball"

  • Anthrax

    Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance - "I'm Alive"

  • Halestorm

    Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance - "Love Bites (So Do I)"

  • Iron Maiden

    Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance - "Blood Brothers"

  • Lamb of God

    Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance - "Ghost Walking"

  • Marilyn Manson

    Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance - "No Reflection"

  • Megadeth

    Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance - "Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)"

  • Muse

    Best Rock Song - "Madness" Best Rock Album - "The 2nd Law"

  • Fiona Apple

    Best Alternative Music Album - "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do"

  • Björk

    Best Alternative Music Album - "Biophilia"

  • M83

    Best Alternative Music Album - "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming."

  • Tom Waits

    Best Alternative Music Album - "Bad As Me"