When the Grammy nominees are revealed on Dec. 8, one surefire contender will not be on the list: Frank Ocean, who released two albums —Blonde and the “visual album” Endless — in August. A source confirms to Billboard that neither album was submitted for consideration by Ocean’s labels, management or other reps, even though both were released well before the 2017 Grammy eligibility cutoff date of Sept. 30, 2016.
Blonde (also known as Blond) — which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the week ending August 25 with 276,000 equivalent-album units, the third-largest total of the year — was released on Ocean’s own Boys Don’t Cry imprint, although many traditional label functions for the still digital-only release were handled by Apple Music. Whether the album was intentionally not submitted for the Grammys or an oversight took place — which may have been the case last year with Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” which also was not submitted — was unclear at press time, although a source close to the situation tells Billboard that Ocean’s team was aware of the deadlines and made the decision.
Reps for Ocean were not immediately available for comment or had not responded to Billboard‘s requests for comment at press time. A rep for the Grammys confirmed that Ocean’s albums had not been submitted for consideration.
Ocean’s “visual album” Endless, his last release through Def Jam, was not submitted either, but its eligibility is uncertain: It is only available as a long-form streaming video through Apple Music (which renders it ineligible for Billboard’s charts). While it conceivably could have been nominated in a video category, the famously undynamic footage consists entirely of Ocean building a staircase while the album plays, making any sort of visual award unlikely. After an update of Grammy rules in June, streaming-only releases are now eligible for awards, although Endless‘ unusual “visual album” status may complicate that; the Recording Academy had not clarified that question at press time.
The albums were Ocean’s first full-length releases in more than four years. His previous release, Channel Orange, was nominated for five 2013 Grammy Awards and won two: one for Best Urban Contemporary Album, and another for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, for the album track “No Church in the Wild.” He was also nominated for Album of the Year and Best New Artist, and Record of the Year for “Thinkin Bout You.”
The Grammy Awards will air on Feb. 12, 2017 on CBS.