New Band of the Day #133: Octavian

It’s been a huge week for the just-emerging-on-the-radar MC Octavian. In a few dimensions. From a huge pop culture cosign in the form of Drake, who quoted Octavian’s new single on his Instagram, to a sort of “legitimizing” cosign from the ever infamous Pitchfork, who awarded him ‘Best New Track’ for the same song. Both huge gestures for someone at the very beginnings of the very beginnings (We’re talking about a man with only 2000 Soundcloud followers as of the writing of this piece).

Off an endearing, but wholly inconsistent and influence soaked, debut project Essie World, Octavian makes a huge step out of his own shadow with the blissful, minimalistic “Party Here”. Built from a stripped down bass line, some claps, and just a few 808s, before it explodes open with bright colors on the chorus, it’s the perfect blend of UK Hip-Hop aesthetics and modern pop-rap stylings. Touching on garage, wonky, and dancehall without ever feeling patronizing or in-genuine.

Then from above Octavian rides the line between a bubbly pop-rap flow, and a gruff, melancholic sing-song-y one. Worming its way around with a new, startling confidence. His textural voice may have been the defining element which elevated him above his many contemporaries, but until now he’s been hedging his bets. Letting the texture out, but pulling it towards derivative flows, or unflattering melodies. And sure, he can do a more conventional, murky, or austere flow (his debut project is full of them), and it definitely sounds well and good, but it just doesn’t feel like a necessary listen. Unlike this, which feels not only deeply original, but completely his own.

A confidence which bleeds over into his more ‘conventional’ music, giving it a more enlightening contrast. Listen as Octavian segues from that warm, emotional space into “100 Degrees” on his Warmsin’ Boiler Room Set. It’s nocturnal and militant, but coming from the completely antithetical tone of “Party Here”, it doesn’t feel disposable anymore. It feels like an important part of the context, and it gains so much weight from that disparity.

Find Octavian on Twitter.

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