All too often, critics look to immediately define a new artist’s sound. For South East’s Octavian, some have called it, grime, some trap, others drill. In reality, the London MC should not be defined - ‘No way they can categorise me’ he projects on new project SPACEMAN. And he’s not wrong. In a time of frustrating repetitiveness in the UK scene, Octavian is riding his own wave and he doesn’t care what you think about it.
Having only been making music for less than 2 years, the energy surrounding the French born rapper is certainly rare for a man of his experience. The last 12 months have been especially key in establishing himself as the next to blow. His 2017 mixtape ‘Essie World’ was followed up with hits Party Here, Hands & Little. Soon the co-signers were out in force. The inevitable Drake shout out was followed by creative maverick Virgil Abloh (who worked on the SPACEMAN cover art and invited him to walk for Louis Vuitton) and clothing line Billionaire Boys Club (who collaborated on a SPACEMAN t-shirt). These, amongst many others have been very vocal in their admiration.
This cross pollination of creative strands only sharpens Octavian’s tools and extends his reach. Be it fashion, design or video, he has honed in on an all-round aesthetic that is perfectly created for the internet age, giving it appeal both on UK and foreign shores.
Musically, the eclectic sound of SPACEMAN certainly takes some influence from distinctly London styles, making it definable in one instance yet alien in another, characterised by an unapologetic bravado and ferocious energy rather than a particular genre. He meets at the intersection between styles, one moment flowing powerfully on ‘Don’t Cry’, the next groaning over a house-type beat on ‘Lightning. ‘On ‘Break That’, he links up with the unstoppable Suspect for a club ready banger. The duo’s innovative approach to the trap aesthetic is continually refreshing and should be used as an example of how it can be done authentically.
Although not necessarily pushing boundaries lyrically, Octavian’s appeal lies in the whole package rather than a complex narrative. The raspy flows and melodic groans are at home over the ethereal, bass heavy instrumentals, giving each track a consistent vibe that absorbs multiple elements into a gripping end product.
What is so remarkable about Octavian is his openness to stretch his sound further than most would consider. The likes of ‘Here is Not Safe’ might not be for everyone but his willingness to express himself displays a confidence in his abilities that goes way beyond his years. Be it model, designer, director or producer, Octavian is the new generation of rapstar. Or as he puts it, ‘ROCKSTAR’.
Words: Angus McKeon
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