When you know, you know. Ten years ago, back when he was 14 years old, London rapper Octavian decided that education wasn't going to be the key to his future, music was. After seeing the success of 50 Cent, and comparing that to having to sit through math class, the British youth started dropping freestyles, believing that he could find his way through rap.
Six years after realizing being a rapper was his destiny, he dropped his first mixtape, titled 22, in 2016. His Essie World EP arrived the next year, followed by mixtapes Spaceman (2018) and Endorphins (2019). Octavian's route to get to the top in hip-hop consists of creating a blend of all the popular sounds in London (Afrobeats, grime) and mixing it into his own version of melodic rapping and singing. He can make songs that are more Afropop-influenced like his current single "Famous" with Gunna and SAINt Jhn (produced by Phil Scully and JAE5) while tracks like the Skepta and Michael Phantom-assisted banger "Bet" could easily be a rap song bumping in American clubs and climbing the Billboard charts; the latter has also earned over 48 million Spotify streams since it's 2019 release.
Rap acts that are huge in America also have a genuine appreciation for Octavian's music. Drake sung along to Octavian's 2017 song "Party Here" at a 2018 Golden Globes after-party, Rihanna had him perform on her Fenty Instagram livestream and Travis Scott wanted to sign the talented artist to Cactus Jack Records. This year is shaping up to add more momentum to Octavian's rising popularity stateside; keep an eye on him. His debut album, executive produced by Skepta and to be released via Black Butter/RCA Records, is on the way and he's already dropped "Famous," "Rari" featuring Future and "Chapter 1" from the effort.
Learn everything there is to know about Octavian's rise in this week's edition of The Break.
Hometown: London, England
I grew up listening to: "I grew up listening to everything. My mom used to love Michael Bublé. From [Bob] Marley to African music, like Magic System, from the Ivory Coast, that's where my mom is originally from. I used to listen to Eminem, 50 Cent, Skepta, Giggs, all these people. I even used to listen to Chingy, remember Chingy? I took you back, innit? You already know [sings 'Right Thurr']."
My style’s been compared to: "People compare me to different people because they think I'm different people. But there's not been one that's been coming up, coming up. 'Oh yeah, you sound a little bit like Travis [Scott]. 'Yo, that rap track you had, that sounded like Gucci Mane.'"
I’m going to blow up because: "When I try to do something, I put 150 million percent into it because failure is my biggest fear. I can't lose. Back in school, you used to fail at something, that didn't sit right with me, and I don't wanna have that ever again in my adulthood. I hate failure. It's my biggest fear. Jump in, you can't believe in the 99.9 percent, you gotta go and get it."
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: "'Party Here' was one of the songs we made when we was blowin' up. It was actually my first song that kind of made me blow up and get known and recognized. It's what Drake was singing at the Golden Globes. It's got 2 million on YouTube."
My standout records to date have been: "You know whats so mad about it? That my biggest songs with the most streams haven't gotten me the most clout by other artists that I'm inspired by. Like with 'Party Here' only has like 2 million views. 'Papi Chulo' only has like 3 mill views and Rihanna knows like every lyric. And some track called 'King Essie,' deep in my mixtape, Travis Scott was playing that on his [Instagram] Live."
My standout moments to date have been: "I was on tour, and we just finished 'Bet,' which was a very big moment, with Skepta and Michael Phantom. Then on tour, my mom died. But then I had to keep going. For me, that was biggest test of strength and ability and how much determination I had and how much I wanted it, and how much I could be strong for the family, and for my crew and my friends and my career. I learned a lot from that situation. That was a turning point of my career. This music thing really means the world to me. It was a choice I made in beginning, and I stick by it."
Most people don’t know: "I'm a good person. I'm a clean-hearted person. We're a clean-hearted gang. We're from the struggle, but everything we do is with a good heart and good morals. We hold that high in our circle."
I’m going to be the next: "Biggest British artist to crossover to the rest of the world."
Follow Octavian on SoundCloud and Instagram.
"Bet" featuring Skepta and Michael Phantom
"Rari (Chapter 1)" featuring Future
"Famous" featuring Gunna and SAINt JHN
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