New Music / New Music

New Music: Octavian

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There’s usually a lot going on in an Octavian track, he’s an all-rounder pushing the boundaries of the hip-hop genre. Whether he’s singing mad catchy hooks, effortlessly rapping intricate bars or simply speaking over the beat, Octavian sounds nice … really nice. The production provided by him and members of his Essie Gang collective has been high calibre in each of his releases. Despite starting off with a low budget DIY approach to recording, the songs are slick, polished and expensive sounding. We have it on good authority that Octavian only makes bangers.

Less than a year has passed since he blew up with his debut track Party Here, this was followed by a handful of critically acclaimed singles and earlier this year Octavian released SPACEMAN; a 14-track LP that has hip-hop fans exhilarated. There’s a wealth of variety in what we’ve heard so far and the beginnings of a signature sound. At a tight one minute and fifty-one seconds, Revenge is a good place to start as it showcases Octavian’s unique talents and gives a taste of what he’s all about. Octavian sounds like the future. Full stop.

Born in France and raised in South East London, the 22-year-old has never been a fan of authority. He had a stint of homelessness as a teenager and dropped out of BRIT School having got in through a scholarship. Things changed fast when Drake endorsed Party Here on social media, the Toronto superstar even covered the song at a live performance. Despite only recently upgrading from his mate’s couch to live in his own flat, Octavian respectfully declined a co-sign offer from Drake’s label. Being as independent as possible while keeping creative control over his music and career is Octavian’s goal.

Prior to the release of SPACEMAN Octavian was expertly melding elements of dancehall, R&B and house into his grimy rap sound. On Spaceman Octavian retains this form but framing it all in a trap record blueprint. This is the hottest musical style in the game right now encompassing hard-hitting production, deep rumbling bass, spaced out instrumentals and melodic electronic drum beats. Octavian really makes this sound his own through catchy auto-tuned crooning choruses and hooks, while also going in on each verse with unquestionable skill, intricate flows, cadence and speed akin to the best grime rappers out there at the moment.

The listener is treated to an introspective Octavian on top form for the duration of the LP; SPACEMAN is expertly arranged with clever collaborations and otherworldly production. It’s stacked with excellent tracks and breezes by in a whirlwind 36 minutes.

Essential tracks

Party Here was a perfect official debut single. It’s undeniable; the likes of Pitchfork and Pigeons & Planes championed it, as well as the aforementioned Drake. This track smacked the hip-hop world in the face in 2017 … Octavian arrived.

The Mura Masa produced Move Me is the UK’s version of Drake’s One Dance. The video is a vibe too, it’s been viewed over 2.6 million times.

Lightning, for which he also teamed up with Ross From Friends for a remix, appears on the SPACEMAN LP.


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