Half way through his UK tour and gearing up to the grand finale at Printworks, we grabbed the chance to sit down with UK based rapper, Ocean Wisdom to discuss his journey so far and where its leading him, all the way down to his shoe game.
After spending years perfecting his craft, Ocean Wisdom burst on to the scene with his debut track ‘Walkin’. This was where it was all going to begin for him after managing to lay down a faster rap than the iconic ‘Rap God’ by Eminem.
After catching up with Ocean, we headed down to the show at Printworks to see what his live performances are all about!
Read the interview below and check out the video recap here!
Footpatrol – Ocean, you’re known as one of the hardest lyrical MCs, especially within the UK. That title doesn’t come easy, tell us how you got to the stage you are at now what was it like at the start of your career?
Ocean Wisdom – Practice, constantly just practicing my craft. It’s almost like if you’re a rapper, you’re like a football team you always want to get to the top flight, play against the top teams and do well. That’s kind of how I look at it when getting a feature you want to do well. I like to think that I have done well in all the features I’ve had, which definitely helps elevate you and people’s perception of you. A lot of rappers say “real rappers recognises real rappers” same way real people recognise real people, when I’m in the studio with these people we just vibe off each other and you’re always learning stuff and progressing. I take my work seriously and I feel other hard working musicians just gravitate towards that.
FP – You’re someone who has done their fair share of collaborative projects as well, do you get any inspiration from those people you’ve worked with? – To name some of those people, P Money, Dizzie Rascal, Ghetts the list goes on… – or do you draw your inspiration from elsewhere?
OW – Each of them inspire me individually, particularly all of the people I’ve worked with in my career so far. They’re kind of elders to me, like I’ve never worked with anyone younger than me because at the start I was too young for artists to be younger than me. At this age you have people around 19-20 who I haven’t had the chance to work with yet, for me I had a bucket list of people that I wanted to work with and they’re the people who inspired me when I was growing up. That’s why everyone that I have worked with is an inspiration to me.
FP – It must be incredible being able to work with some of your idols?
OW – It surreal, its weird though because often in life the chase is better than the catch you know. With working with your idols its like you chase something and then it lives forever. Where as you might have a girl you really like and you chase her, chase her, chaser her and one day she becomes yours then you realise oh she’s not for me and then you’re stuck. With music you get in the studio with someone sometimes and the tune is dead. I’ve been lucky every time I’ve stepped into the booth with these people the tune has been banging, both parties liking it, and it’s a vibe. You have these dreams and ambitions and then when you put it into fruition you’re like oh it actually worked rather than just an idea that never came out as good as you imagined it.
FP – Many of those people you’ve worked with would say they are Grime artists. Would you say you fall under that bracket or do you think your style and flow comes under a different genre?
OW – I just like to think I have a style that hasn’t got a name, it’s one of those things that I walk a line that has multiple different avenues that exist in the music industry and I just walk in between a few of them. It’s like a venn diagram, I’m walking into many paths but thats my thing.
FP – So essentially diversity is key when it comes to your content?
OW – I feel like any creative will say the key to keeping your audience engaged is to constantly defy their expectations. It’s like if I can make 1000 songs and I have released 60 on 2 albums and a mixtape all people know is 6% of what I can do, there’s still another 94% to do over time. People try to box you into what they think you are based on what you shown them, but thats on the assumption that you’ve shown your full potential. I haven’t shown people my full spectrum, I haven’t even shown them a fraction of my spectrum yet. By the time we get 10 years down the line when people try to put me in that box it won’t be as annoying because they would have had 10 years worth of music to make that decision. But to say whether I’m grime or Hip-hop now is too difficult.
FP – Hip Hop as a genre has shifted quite a lot since the 80s/90s. As these changes have happened over time a lot of newer rappers have taken a less lyrical approach and focus on easy to remember hooks and simpler rhymes. You’re known as one of the saviours of UK Hip Hop with your complex lyrics and quick flow, do you think that being a good lyricist is just as important now as it was then within the industry?
OW – Back then if you were into Hip-Hop you were of a certain plain of thinking. Think about the lack of complexity of the average person, and understand half the world is less complex than that and they’re all listening to Hip-Hip now. Now it’s like if you want to do something smart, different and forward thinking you gonna be in an even more smaller bracket than maybe 20 years ago; 20 years ago people were on that level. Whereas now people there not just people that appreciate good quality rap but there’s also people who also appreciate nursery rhymes, dead bars and so on so it’s like what market are you trying to cater to. When I was 15, the logic was just be as skillful as possible and you’ll blow up through practice and hard work. Now it’s like, you can do that Kendrick is a good example, but you can also do a Lil Pump. When you see Kendrick and Lil Pump are bringing in the same amount of money that year, that’s when you know the demand in the music scene right now is so diverse. It’s not like their trying to appeal to the next man’s demographic, it’s just about doing your own thing, trusting the process and trusting your skills.
FP – Off the top of that, whos your favourite rapper?!
OW – Ghetts. Saying that though Dizzie is definitely up their to and old Eminem, he’s my favourite US rapper. I’m also messing with a lot of American rappers at the moment though, I just like the cadence and the swing that they got going on. UK technicals Ghetts, inspiration Dizzie.
FP – Moving into the serious questions now, your shoe game. Tell us about your interest in footwear, has it always been a part of your life or has the music industry made it a part of your life?
OW – My whole wardrobe is probably the same size as this room but a different shape little bit more square. It’s all colour coordinated so goes from clothes to shoes and goes white, to black, to colours. I’ve got every block colour in all different types of crepe you can think of. For example, I would just go on Nike ID Air Force 1 across the whole colour spectrum so I have that just as a base, I got a couple Vapormax type things, some Off Whites, few Valentinos, some Burberry bits and also collabs like A Cold Wall x Nike. I got a lot of customs, I like to find artists like Justwin Customs he’s sick! He made this Air Force that look like it was on fire, he took a Bunsen burner to it and everything. The concept was to make something which as you wore got better with age. I also got all the bait designer customs like the Gucci on the top of the Air Force all that stuff. If i get a pattern in something I gotta get the pattern in everything, so I’d have the durag, matching the shoe, matching the phone case its mad!
FP – Did you ever have any music idols when you were younger you used to look up to for style inspiration?
OW – Na, you know what it was. I never really had any money to look trendy, I’ve never had any money to dress nice, never had anything like that. I only started getting into it when I was able to start affording it and even then it wasn’t till like 9 months after that because I wanted to make sure I could afford it for a good year before I would even go in the shop. When it was all comfy I went to see what all the fuss is about. I also had a girlfriend at the time who was well in fashion, she was into all that underground trendy stuff she just schooled me on everything. That’s how I got into the customs, working with designers basically all that stuff she put on me. She plugged me up with some knowledge man.
FP – Just quickly back into music, are there any artists that have caught your eye this year you’re waiting to hear more from?
OW – This is a tricky one. From the US I like Pop Smoke. In the UK, Potter Payper man.
FP – Ocean thank you for your time, before we let you go is there anything in the works you want to let people know about?
OW – It’s a bit too early to announce what exactly is coming up yet but this time next year you will have never seen a UK rapper ever with a higher work rate than me. That’s all I’m gonna say.