Born in Camden but residing on the south coast, Ocean Wisdom is one of Brighton’s most exciting emerging talents. Having been honing his craft for years he had his break when he dropped the Dirty Dike produced banger ‘Walkin’’ out of nowhere, which was followed up by the smash ‘Ewok’ a collaboration with producer Kidkanevil which ended up A-Listed on the BBC Radio 1Xtra playlist. Gigs issued and Ocean recorded his début album with impressive features from Foreign Beggers, Klashnekoff, The Four Owls, Lunar C, Jam Baxter, Edward Scissortounge and Remus, as well as the production from Dirty Dike – not bad for a début album! There is no doubt about Ocean’s hype and with his album (Chaos 93’) being released by High Focus Records on 22nd February, we met up with him to find out more.
What kind of music were you brought up on?
When you are a kid you listen to what your parents were listening to. My mum used to be into rap, weirdly, and my dad was into reggae. I would also listen to artists like Macy Gray all the time with my mum. On my own I would be listening to Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Wu Tang Clang – at least, whenever I could get away with it as I would have been proper young.
Can you remember the first album you owned?
I think the first album I bought was the Eminem album with a split in half pill on the CD, The Slim Shady LP. Being so young, I just didn’t understand why there was a pill on the album – he was a rapper, not a doctor. I feel lucky to have had Eminem to listen to when I was growing up, as Eminem didn’t have Eminem to listen to. There were other good rappers out at the time but nothing compared to his lyrics – it was another level. It’s the same with Dizzee Rascal, he didn’t have anything to listen to like himself when he was starting out. That’s why rappers are so good now.
Eminem must have been a big influence?
Yeah. He is someone that never compromised on the flow and content. So many people you hear making stupid rhymes, where the flow is great but the lyrics don’t make any sense, or the flow is poor but they have said something clever. People are always compromising – Eminem never did. I have definitely taken that, to never ever compromise. He was also someone who was commercial but was actually really sick at spitting, and when you are a young kid he is one of the few people that is accessible to you. There were other people too who inspired me indirectly like DMX or Busta Rhymes for example – they are completely different and showed me that there were different ways to go about rapping.
When was the first time you started rapping?
I must have been about 14 years old when I started writing properly. Before that I would learn all the lyrics to the hardest songs – like ‘Break Ya Neck’ by Busta Rhymes. I can remember listening to a lot of 50 Cent’s early stuff, so the first time I actually recorded a tune was to the beat of his ‘When It Rains It Pours’ as it’s got a killer beat. I would then keep writing tracks to YouTube beats and send them my boy Tom Holborn – he was the only person I would send them too, I did that for years and years. Then at 16 years old I got signed to a management agency.
Do you prefer writing music or performing live?
Writing without a shadow of a doubt. The reason I am in the position I am in is because of my writing. And if I wasn’t in the position I’m in, I would still be writing.
I heard that you went with Prince Kong to meet Dirty Dikes and ended up recording ‘Walkin’’ that same night?
I’ve known Prince Kong for years, met him through my boy Max Prince who is his brother. We were just jamming one night, and he said let’s go round to Dirty Dykes as he knew him. Kong recorded a little something and then Dyke was going through his beats – ‘Walkin’’ came on and I was like ‘yes’! Ended up recording it all in one take.
Tell us a bit about Chaos 93’?
My mum and dad decided to call me Ocean but when I was born in 1993 my heart stopped and so did my mums. We were resuscitated but my mum was still unconscious. ‘Cause she wasn’t with it, my dad decided that he was going to call me Chaos. Then when my mum came to she was like, “I am not having that! If you call him Chaos, our son is going to be the nightmare child” – she tells me that story laughing. When I was younger I didn’t really like my name and wanted to be called Chaos – it’s a bad boy name, like a Power Ranger or something – then when I was 12 I started liking it cause it’s unique. The album is really personal to me and a lot of effort went into it, that’s why I called it Chaos 93’. Then, I’m just lucky I have all these features on the album to create such a buzz – they all shut it down and that means a lot to me.
What has been a musical eye-opener and how has it affected you?
When I first started making money from music, it goes from a hobby to a profession and my perspective change for the music scene. There are added pressures. You can’t necessarily just do it when you want and you know that a certain number of people are going to hear what you are putting out. It is almost like shackles that you have to ignore. Instead of just putting music up on Soundcloud, which could have been any kind of weird stuff, you have to think about the crowd’s reaction and how it is going to be live.
Who would be in your Hip-Hop supergroup?
It would be sick to have DJ Premier create something for The Roots to play live, with an almost James Brown kind of funky tempo. Have Dizzy Rascal, me and Kano to keep it UK, but then randomly have Busta Rhymes and Eminem come in.
What would be your perfect line-up of any three acts for a concert you are putting on and where would it be?
It would be at the Concorde 2. The headline act would be Big L and Cypress Hill. Before them you would have Eminem and D12, full crew, and opening the show you would have a young fresh faced Jay-Z and he is shitting it. Actually scrap that…. Cypress Hill and Wu Tang Clang headlining, then Big L and Jay-Z in support would be crazy! I would have to open that show.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be and what would they bring?
It would have to be Dizzee Rascal, that would be sick! I would also like to have a music video directed by Darren Brown. I think his ideas for the music video would be mad!
Do you get to go to many gigs?
I played with Giggs the other day and saw his show after which was sick. When you’re playing out all the time, the last thing you want to do when you got some time off is stay out late. But when you see Kurupt FM, who completely shut it down, I’m there.
What music are you listening to at the moment, any recommendations?
I’ve been listening to a lot of grime recently, there are so many variations of that genre. Listening to that music makes me proper hyped. When I do my hip-hop, I try and bring that vibe.
What are your future plans after the release of Chaos 93’?
I am doing a European tour that starts 24th Febuary 2016 which is going everywhere. Then there will be a UK tour and hopefully an Australian one too.