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23-year old Rapper Octavian wins the BBC Sound of 2019

23-year old Rapper Octavian wins the BBC Sound of 2019

by Shruthi Venkatesh January 16 2019, 4:45 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 47 secs

Rapper Octavian wins the BBC Music’s Sound of 2019 poll voted by a panel of 136 critics, broadcasters and DJs, including former nominees Ellie Goulding and Stormzy who came together to narrow down the finalists and pick the overall winner. The 23-year-old French-British star whose real name is Oliver Godji - has become the first rapper in 15 years, when 50 Cent topped the annual poll, to be honoured with the prestigious award.

He told the BBC: “That's lit. I don't even know how to feel right now ... Mum, I made it!”

BBC Sound of 2019 nominees - Rosalía, Flohio and Slowthai make the longlist (Flipboard)

The star has been through a lot of struggles on his route to fame. He spent most of his teenage years homeless after being thrown out of school and, later, his family home. “A year ago I was poor, I had no money,” he told the BBC. “But I was never depressed. I was never in the mode to give up. Around me it was bad, but I kept motivated.” Yet, his musical ambitions weren’t abandoned and had gradually built a strong desire to get through. 

On winning the Sound of 2019, he added: “If I can get this, I can get anything. 2019 is going to be a great year.” Octavian first came to international attention at the start of last year when Drake filmed a video of himself singing along to the rapper's breakthrough track ‘Party Here’ at a Golden Globes after party.  Louis Vuitton’s artistic director, Virgil Abloh, subsequently flew Octavian to Paris to walk in a cat walk show, followed by the release of his debut full-length mix-tape, Spaceman, which won acclaim for its innovative, genre-mashing mix of trap, rave, R&B, gospel, rap, drill, dancehall and grime. 

“Octavian is not in any genre - he is absolutely in his own lane,” said DJ Benji B, who was the first person to play the rapper on BBC radio. “He makes music that is unique to him, and that is one of the many things that makes him such a great artist,” praised the DJ.

“Octavian is a truly original and exciting artist, pushing the boundaries of the genre and it's great to see such a progressive artist getting such a huge accolade,” added fellow BBC DJ Annie Mac.

“Huge congratulations to Octavian and to all the artists shortlisted for the BBC Music Sound of 2019,” said James Stirling, head of BBC Music and BBC Music introducing, in a statement. “The quality of the music speaks for itself and BBC Music is incredibly proud to support them all across Radio, TV and BBC Sounds.”

The BBC Music Sound of 2019 top five are:

  1. Octavian
  2. King Princess
  3. Grace Carter
  4. Slow Thai
  5. Rosalia

Annie Mac, who unveiled the winner on her BBC Radio 1 show, commented: “BBC Sound is always a wonderful opportunity to get a snapshot of the new music landscape in the UK and this year is really interesting. 6 of the 10 artists are women. And we have two rappers in the top five! I am delighted that UK rap music has got such great placement in the list”.

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