By Bobby McCarty
Ocean Wisdom has been making waves for a while now, from the seafront town of Brighton, home of the notorious ‘Don’t Flop’ and stomping ground of a good measure of contemporary UK hip-hop talent, Ocean Wisdom has been laying in wait for the right time to fully unleash his lyrical prowess.
On 23rd February 2018, two years after releasing Ocean Wisdom’s debut album ‘Chaos ‘93’, High Focus released his latest instalment, ‘Wizville’, and a strong release it is too. Where some of the label’s releases have left us wanting more, such as the surprisingly lean ‘Laminated Cakes’ from Jam Baxter and Ed Scissor which was something of a gourmet tasting platter, ‘Wizville’ takes quite a different approach. There is just so much content on this album in every sense; there are some serious features stepping in throughout, a heavy track list of 21 songs, and so many words… so, so many.
Sheer volume of syllables is where Ocean Wisdom really comes into his own, his ability to absolutely flood a beat with lyrics is nothing short of astounding. Here is a young artist single handedly reviving a much lost appreciation for rapping at incredible speed, leading a charge away from the recent global trends in hip hop and filling the space between the overproduced and indistinguishable trap generation rap with a lyrical ability the likes of which we have not seen for some time. And what’s more is it isn’t a gimmick at all, without flow speed rapping is often an absolute chore to listen to, but when a high words-per-minute is properly counterbalanced by style and ability you get more than just a spectacle of speed, you get the most crisp and authentic double time since the reign of Dizzee Rascal.
So it is no wonder then that Dizzee caught wind of the young Brightonians coming tsunami and wanted to jump in and ride the wave. Along with huge names like Rodney P, Roots Manuva, P Money and even Method Man (yes, from The Wu Tang Clan, thats the one), Dizzee Rascal holds his own with a feature on arguably the best track of the album, ‘Revvin’. It is entirely befitting that these big names would lend themselves to this release, putting their seal of approval on the work of an establishing artist and certifying him further as a highly accomplished hip hop artist even this early in his career – two years is enough for some, but somehow I doubt Ocean Wisdom plans on retiring early.
It’s not for everybody, this kind of music, at times it can feel like a full-on assault on the ears and language centres of the brain – it is overwhelming, dark and aggressive at its worst yet still meaningful and carefully constructed all the while. That is to say that even at its most turbulent and imposing it is no doubt deliberately so, with every single syllable used with purpose and every sparing pause placed to fuel the lines to follow. Yet still, a surprising range exists on this album, from the fury and intensity of jungle DnB pedigreed ‘I Ain’t Eaten’ through to the solemn piano backing of ‘Perspectives’ in which Wisdom modestly proves he can hold pitch as well as pile on the word count, what we see is a rapper playing to his strengths, paying homage to his forebears and setting up for a long and prosperous career.
All that remains to be seen is whether the young powerhouse can live up to his own standard in a live show, something we will be looking forward to seeing ourselves.
Buy the album here