Moments of originality show an MC who's best when he's experimenting...

After breaking through as the face of High Focus Records, Ocean Wisdom has moved on to the next chapter of his career with new mixtape ‘Big Talk Vol. 1’ - the first release on his own record label.

The mixtape format allows Wisdom to take a less focused approach, with the sprawling 20-track project giving the MC the space to flex his creativity, and on ‘Lowrider’ - easily the most compelling track in the first act of the record - his lyrics making higher impact as he slows down his flow, something unexpected.

There’s more experimentation too. The most interesting run of tracks comes in the second third of the project, beginning with ‘Fatboy’ featuring Fatboy Slim. The beat is a welcome departure from the downbeat soundscape of the opening act, with the Wisdom sounding revitalised as he leaves his comfort zone.

The following tracks ‘Hootie Hoo’ and ‘Voices In My Head’ also shine, as they take Wizzy in different creative directions.

Conversely, the tape’s opener ‘4AM’ is undeniably a solid start, but it’s not really anything new if you’re already a fan, and the same could be said for ‘Blessed’ featuring Dizzee Rascal: it doesn’t really build further on the pair’s collaboration ‘Revvin’ from last year.

Overall, Wizzy’s trademark up-tempo, skippy flow is impressive, but it can be somewhat repetitive at times, and occasionally near incomprehensible. Switch-ups in tempo cut through this, for example when P Money comes in with his signature style on ‘Breathin’, the grime MC demonstrates how variety and clarity really elevate quicker flows.

Unfortunately, the final act doesn’t provide much else in terms of variety or experimentation, posing a question regarding the length of the project. That being said, closer ‘Big Talk’ is perhaps Wisdom’s strongest performance, with captivating bars matching up perfectly to a hypnotic beat.

Although die-hard fans may be grateful for more of the same, this project hints at but doesn’t quite deliver on this MC’s enormous promise. He has already proven many times over that he is technically gifted, but hip-hop history is littered with great rappers who can’t make great bodies of work. You cannot deny that Ocean Wisdom is an unbelievably talented rapper; now it’s time for him to prove he’s an artist.


Words: Will Rosebury 

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