In a U.K. music scene that’s thriving with young, hungry talent ready to claim thrones, the seemingly revolving door can keep attentions away from some real gems. Ones that may not make as much noise as their peers, but whose very calculated movements lead to a wave of success. In spite of this, Oscar #Worldpeace is ready to blow the door completely off its hinges. Arriving from the storied North London area of Tottenham, the rapper and producer is as refreshing as he is daring. From his cool demeanour and style to his outgoing personality, his skills should not be taken for granted, because he can go up against most rappers and steal the show. The product of a multi-cultural African and Caribbean background, music had been the motive from day dot and this first phase of his career has seen him mould his influences to produce an enticing perspective of life.
Once he decided to don the moniker #Worldpeace, Oscar made a conscious decision: to be himself. Unequivocally. The name translates to his work, in which he attempts to make sense of his environment – that of millennial struggles, depression, loneliness, knife crime and others, laced with hints of political commentary – with sonics (by both himself and frequent collaborator Ragz Originale) that take you on a journey through the ends. On tracks like ‘Run’ and ‘Wary’ you can certainly hear the pensiveness in Oscar’s voice, which comes from a period of his life of being disillusioned and unhappy.
Previously an employee at British supermarket chain, Tesco, Oscar risked it all, quitting his job to chase his dream to make music. Dropping debut track ‘Mook’ in 2014 and getting co-signs from the likes of Beats1’s Zane Lowe and Viper favourite CASisDEAD, his talents caught the attention of U.K. legend Mike Skinner, who later took Oscar under his wing and gave him the blueprint for success. He hasn’t looked back since, dropping one of the most cohesive projects to come out of the U.K. this year, ‘Recluse’. Less is definitely more in Oscar’s case and, in 22 minutes and nine tracks, the young spitter laid out his world as he sees it – scattered, sparse, but ultimately hopeful for positive change. Oscar is a multifaceted individual who perfectly translates that into introspective songs and bangers alike. With a new project out soon, titled ‘IC3’, the second phase of his career is set for take-off.
Viper caught up with him in the heart of Shoreditch to discuss his come up, his hometown and creative freedom.
What made you want to call yourself #Worldpeace?
I actually have no idea how it came about. I think, after university, I had a realisation that I just wanted to do music. I was called something else before but I just wanted to use my real name and use something I want to live by. I don’t remember the exact day [I changed my name] but I just remember having a midlife crisis after uni at the age of 21! I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just knew I didn’t want to do anything with my degree and I knew I wanted to do music but I didn’t know how good I was at the time. I studied media communication and did a bit of journalism but it wasn’t for me.
So, what made you want to make music?
I wanted to tell my story. I’ve always been around good music. My parents are both young so I wasn’t too far away from garage, jungle, ragga, hiplife, bashment. I’m half Jamaican, half Ghanaian so having those two musical cultures in me, I’ve just always enjoyed music. I had older cousins who did grime in the early 2000s, and I just wanted to be like them and the popular guys on the ends.
You were in a duo before becoming Oscar #Worldpeace known as The Chocolate Brothers, what happened to that?
We’re still good friends, but it just wasn’t my story. When you’re in a duo you have to meet in the middle. It wasn’t me and I just wanted to do my own thing.
Being from Tottenham, do you ever feel pressure to live up to the likes of Skepta, JME and Wretch 32, who all come from there?
Everyone in Tottenham is so diverse, because the place is so multicultural and I’m just another leaf off the tree of all the artists from Tottenham. I’ve got a different story to tell than the other guys, whether that’s my age group or my culture or what I’ve seen in my life. They may have a completely different story and background to me. Tottenham is just where I live, my real story comes from my parents and their parents; but I’m just another guy from Tottenham.
Were your parents accepting of you wanting to make music?
Yeah, I was raised by my mum and she’s my biggest fan, she’ll be the first to tell me whether she enjoyed something or what needs changing. She’ll listen to a radio set and tell me after to stop swearing!
How did she react when you played her your first song?
If we’re going back to then, she probably thought, “ah it is what it is,” but I remember when I decided to become Oscar #Worldpeace, there was a fire in me when I told her that I was going to do this and she can vouch for that. She’ll tell you that I took her to a room and told her I’m going to do this and that no one is saying what I’m going to say. She probably thought, “meh” but now she can see [the journey] being laid brick by brick. She knows it’s not easy, but she can see good things happening. She wants to know everything I’m doing, and I’ll just be like, “wait and see what happens.” I don’t like telling her good things until they happen, because she’s a mum and she’s going to have that sentiment – if something doesn’t go my way I know she’s going to be angry and think it’s not working for me, when I know it’s just part of the game.
On your last project, ‘Recluse’, what did you set out to get across about yourself?
Predominantly that I’m the best. But also, the idea that you can be vulnerable and still be just as talented as anyone. I’m talking about depression, me working in Tesco, having no money and that’s the main story of that chapter in my life. I needed that inspiration and when [‘Recluse’] dropped, it gave me a new desire. I didn’t believe in myself before but it dropped and people have been really receptive to it, to the point that some of them came up to me at my headline show and said, “yo I’m going through the same things” and it’s so good to hear. Music right now is so materialistic – people are talking about having this and having that instead of saying, “what upsets you? When you go to sleep at night what do you see? How do you feel?” So, ‘Recluse’ was about laying all my cards on the table and a way of saying, “this is me, take me as I am.”
Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?
I want to be a positive role model to my younger siblings and as long as my mum is proud, I’ve done a great job.
Any final shout outs?
‘Recluse’ out now, ‘IC3’ coming out in November!
This is an extract from Viper’s AW17 NOMAD issue. Buy physical and digital copies via Viper World.
Words by Yemi Abiade
Photos by Thursday