Update: Billboard has confirmed that Ocean's management knew about the Grammy deadline and chose not to submit. See the original story below.
Once a man of mystery, always a man of mystery. Frank Ocean, R&B's psychedelic hermit, has been MIA since pulling off two of the most mysterious and unknowable album drops in history this year — the meditative visual album Endless and the confessional Blonde — within a day of each other. Both albums swept through critical circles like wildfire, but as soon as Ocean appeared, he was gone. Even the Grammy Awards won't be able to pull him out of hiding.
Neither Blonde nor Endless will be eligible for the 2017 Grammys for a strange, but not wholly unexpected, reason, according to Billboard. Neither Ocean, his label, management nor reps ever submitted either album for consideration, Billboard reported, citing a source.
That sound you hear is the rest of the R&B sighing in relief. The category just got a lot easier to win.
It's not entirely clear how or why Ocean decided (or neglected) to submit his albums for consideration. It's possible it could have been a clerical oversight, as it was in the case of Drake's "Hotline Bling." However, there could've also likely been some lingering tensions between Ocean and his former label Def Jam. The release of Endless immediately freed Ocean from his contract with the label, which allowed him to release the more complete (and arguably more powerful) Blonde independently through his own Boys Don't Cry imprint days later.
Universal Music Group, which owns Def Jam, reportedly had grounds to sue over that shady exit stratagem, but it hasn't moved forward with anything thus far. Not submitting Endless could have been a product of that grudge — yet it's also unclear whether it would've been eligible in the major categories first place. Its status as a visual album places it in limbo, and may have made it only eligible for the video categories. Good luck going up against Beyoncé's Lemonade with a "how-to build a staircase" tutorial.
Neither the Grammy committee nor Def Jam responded as of press time to clarify. But the bottom line is the same no matter what: Despite the quality of both releases, there will be no Grammys for Frank Ocean. The reason will just be one more question for Ocean — if he ever offers an interview again.
October 18, 2016, 2:06 p.m.: This story has been updated.