Following the death of his father as a small child, French-British artist Octavian – real name Oliver Godji – moved from Lille to London with his mother. In the UK, he obtained a scholarship for the prestigious The BRIT School, before subsequently dropping out and briefly ending up homeless.
It’s a long way from where Octavian is today. The rapper first emerged from south east London backed by a team of audiovisual collaborators known as the Essie Gang, with his distinctive vocals flitting between gravelly bars and soft crooning over gleaming production that sounded unlike anyone else. His Spaceman tape landed last year amid an array of collaborations (to date he’s worked with the likes of Mura Masa, Skepta, Diplo), and he kicked off the year by topping the BBC Sound of 2019 tastemakers’ poll, fuelling the hype ahead of a teased debut album, set to land this year.
Beyond the music, Octavian’s aesthetic is integral to his art, too, blending high fashion with futuristic streetwear. Notably, Virgil Abloh brought him out at his Louis Vuitton debut in 2018. The inevitable Drake co-sign last year felt sort of incidental – after all, Octavian’s the one pushing his own agenda.