Frank Ocean's new visual album Endless is full of creative heavyweights: names like Arca, James Blake, and Sampha immediately pop out. But there's one person whose influence predates Endless, and helped develop Ocean's 2012 debut album Channel Orange into the esteemed record it is today. Om’Mas Keith has been a consistent presence in Frank Ocean's career, so it's only fair we bring him out from behind the boards and into the spotlight.
Sa-Ra were formerly signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music, and even did a song with Ye, Andre 3000, and Fonzworth Bentley.
He met the "very quiet and reserved" Frank Ocean at his house.
From L.A. Weekly:
"Michael Uzowuru brought Frank to my house one day. Frank would come over with the Odd Future crew and we'd all just be playing everything for each other... At the time, he was playing songs from nostalgia, Ultra before he put it out. So we had a couple listening sessions after our first meeting. And not too long after, he asked me to work on his album."
After he started hanging out with Odd Future, his entire process changed.
From Red Bull Music Academy:
"My focus then became someone who probably would not work with anyone over the age of 27, no shade at anybody that’s over age 27. That’s just what I started dealing with. Even to this day, I still continue to deal with young brothers and sisters in that age bracket. Through my demonstrations in peace, love and creativity, they saw that I was on-point with the music."
His work on Channel Orange turned "sketches into major-label-release-ready album cuts."
From The New York Times:
"[Ocean and Keith] decided to focus first on vocals — leads, harmonies — and then they went back into the studio to perfect the music... 'This is the Michael Jackson way of making records,' Om’Mas told me. He called Ocean 'the shepherd' of the whole process. 'I just credit Frank with being an extreme visionary, even in how he put the process together. It’s a blueprint that people are going to try to follow.'"
He won the Best Urban Contemporary Grammy in 2013 for his work on Channel Orange...
"I got a Grammy sitting on my desk, almost 20 years to the fricking day of my start in the music business. That’s how long it took."
He's got production and mixing credits on Jay Z's Kingdom Come, Erykah Badu's New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, and Rick Ross's Rise To Power.
His piano work appears on Endless's "At Your Best (You Are Love)."
"When I play keys, It’s a true extension of myself," he said in an interview with Music Industry Quarterly.
For a comprehensive look at Om'Mas Keith's life and career, watch Om'Mas Keith: Across The Board, a documentary by Red Bull Music Academy.