Rapper Octavian wins BBC Sound of 2019 poll

The rapper, born in France and raised in the UK, said ‘it’s going to be a very loud year for me’ as he earns honour previously won by Adele and Sam Smith

The BBC Sound of 2019 poll has been topped by the Anglo-French rapper Octavian.

The 23-year-old joins previous winners including Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding in the industry poll that has traditionally anointed the next big thing in music.

On receiving the honour, Octavian said: “I knew that one day I was going to be successful. I get inspired and I try to make a new sound every day. It’s going to be a very loud year for me. Loads of music, loads of visuals, loads of albums.”

Born in Lille, he shuttled between France and London throughout his childhood, eventually landing a scholarship to the Brit school – the performing arts school that trained Jessie J, Leona Lewis and Adele. But he dropped out and, amid friction with his family, became homeless. “I didn’t have no money, but I still managed to eat, to live,” he told the Guardian in 2018. “It wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Once you’re there, that is your life. You can only look up, because down there’s nothing left.”

Rapping over genre-straddling production that touches on US trap, UK drill, grime and more, his rise has since been swift – Canadian superstar Drake was filmed rapping along to Octavian’s breakthrough track Party Here, and he was chosen by Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh to model for a collection. He released his debut mixtape, Spaceman, in September.

“Octavian is not in any genre – he is absolutely in his own lane,” said BBC Radio 1 DJ Benji B. “The first couple of tunes he released into the world [Party Here and Hands] were some of the most futuristic, forward thinking, raw and inspiring tunes to come out of the UK in the last two years.”

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