Known for his intricate flows and catchy but deep lyricism Ocean Wisdom is an MC known for his numerous killer tracks. From 'The Know', 'Flavour', 'High Street' and 'Walkin', Ocean's latest album Wizville has already hit Top 40 on the official UK Album Chart. Featuring legends like Dizzee Rascal, Methodman, Roots Manuva, Rodney P and plenty more, Ocean's dedication to the game is paying off.
We catch up with the rapper to talk about the inspiration behind Wizville, working with his rap heroes and his proudest moment so far.
You grew up in Brighton, what was that like?
I was actually born in Camden and my family are from Battersea area. I moved to Brighton when I was younger! It was good, I like Brighton.
So growing up where you the naughty kid at school?
I guess so but you know it helps shape you and you learn about yourself.
You started writing your own stuff at 14, is that when it became serious for you?
I guess I first started taking it seriously when I decided I wasn't going to pursue a sports career when I was really young. I started realizing you have to apply the same attitude towards any profession as you would if you wanted to become a professional sportsman, every day relentlessly training, so I do the same but with rap.
So what kind of raps did you start out doing?
A bit more American influenced, I remember at the time I was listening to a lot of 50 Cent and I was heavily influenced by his accent, so that was quite funny.
At what moment did you think, you know what, this music thing can work for me?
When I started showing people, their reactions was kinda different to when my other friends where rapping at them. So I would always get a mad reaction, like a really powerful reaction from people, I guess that's what planted the seed in my head. The thing about me as an artist I am not really putting on an act as an artist, it's just me and people could see that.
Tell us about your latest album Wizville?
The album is supposed to be like an audible representation of my mind so that's why I have got people featuring on it that I grew up listening to and who helped shape me as an artist. The songs on the album are taking you on a journey through the various moods and energies that are flowing around my mind, and then visually I have depicted it on the album as a place/city.. when they look at the booklet I want people to feel like they are travelling through Wizville in multiple ways.
When you read the booklet, there is a map and you can travel through the map listening to each song and there are different areas of the town labelled as different songs and that's the vibe I am trying to create, it is a very varied album, its showing all the different sides to my personality and me as a character.
Now, this album features some legends from Rodney P, Roots Manuva, Methodman to you working with Dizzee Rascal, who I know was a massive inspiration to you growing up, how was it working with all those legends?
Just very humbling, puts a lot of stuff into perspective, it's very surreal. Also really interesting to work with idols.. those are the three words I would use to describe it.
So what was that initial meeting with Dizzee like?
I was very grateful to be invited to the studio and he is a very genuine person. He welcomed me into his space and he encourages you to be creative and do your own thing. Doesn't make you feel awkward about the difference in notoriety. So it was all nice, it was good vibes!
Now all that is left is a collab with Eminem?
Yeah, yeah, one day soon we can get that sorted, it seems ridiculous even saying that but I never thought I would be on a tune with Dizzee Rascal so I can't rule out anyone at this stage.
So would you battle it out to see who's the fastest?
What me and Eminem?
Nah man, Eminem knows I rap faster than him but it's not all about rapping fast. If you want to know who says words faster I reckon it's me but it's not all about saying words fast. What I would like to do with him is make a good bit of music. Not just a fast bit of hip hop. There's every chance I might rap slow, one of my biggest tunes is me rapping slow init, so it's just one of the many weapons you draw from.
Is there a message you are trying to get across on this album?
Nothing in your face, you have to read into it, I do that on purpose. I am more than capable of putting out an album full of really obvious messages and really conscious messages etc. But at the end of the day, it's like Inception you can't just put ideas in people's head and make them believe it. If you want to create genuine results and you really want people invested in you it’s important to do that through the energies that you are evoking in them.
A lot of energies on this album it's just like being able to achieve your goals without being cheesy or obvious about it. Like look at what I have done, look at what I am doing with my rap career and I am just putting a voice on it, I am putting a beat behind it as to what I am trying to do with my life. Anyone that does music I want it to motivate them and anyone who isn't trying to be a musician, I just want them to be able to put life on pause for a couple of hours and just enjoy the music.
Also as a rapper whose using his music to positively impact listeners, what is your take on Stormzy's Grenfell verse at the Brit Awards this year?
I haven't heard the verse but I think it is important for people with a voice to get their opinion heard so when I see young people with something to say and the courage to say it I can only respect it.
So do you think then as an artist you have a responsibility to talk about issues that reflect the time you live in?
Not at all, do it if you want to, there's no pressure on any artist I don't think. I feel like you can put pressure on yourself by only releasing that sort of music but that's pressure you are putting on yourself, no one is looking at anyone to do anything in the rap scene other than rap and make good albums.
I feel like any intelligent person with a platform has a somewhat obligation to do what's right and spread positivity but whether or not they choose to do that through their music is on them, I don't condemn people because they choose to rap about ignorant things and I don't put people on pedestal just cause they choose to rap about conscious topics.
What advice would you give to up and coming lyricists?
I would say read, educate yourself, practice every day for hours and hours to the point it seems obsessive and weird. Don't wait for a handout. Make your own luck by working harder than your competition.
Seeing my music help people going through difficult times is one of my proudest moments. And then as well as that, being able to work with Dizzee whose someone that I have always idolized, that was a very, very proud moment for me. And also playing my music on the other side of the world and being paid to be on the other side of the world doing what I enjoy doing is really good affirmation of your hard work.
What would feel a swimming pool with if it could be anything?
I would say I want it filled with every influential person under the age of 40, I want their direct email and phone number on a bit of paper, I want a pool full of that. I want all the contacts.
That's awesome, you could have Kendrick Lamar, Dizzee...
Listen, I have got Dizzee's already (laughs).
That's true! So what else can we expect from you in 2018?
Just a lot of hard work, a lot of good energy. I would say there might be more music coming this year, I have got a higher work rate this year and in general so we will see.
Any last words?
Yeah, just big up Guestlist and big up all the readers on Guestlist, that's all I got to say man.
You can find Ocean on Twitter // Facebook & you can order Wizville now!