Drake-Tipped Rapper Octavian Wins BBC Music Sound of 2019 Poll

Octavian Essie
Dave Benett/Getty Images for Louis Vuitton

Octavian Essie attends the Louis Vuitton and Virgil Abloh London Pop-Up on Oct. 19, 2018 in London.

British rapper Octavian has been named the winner of the BBC Music Sound of 2019 poll, voted for by more than 130 industry experts, DJs, festival bookers, critics and former winners.

The 23 year-old artist beat King Princess and Grace Carter to the coveted title, which has previously been awarded to Adele, Sam Smith, Haim, Ellie Goulding and Norwegian pop singer Sigrid, who topped last year's poll. He is the first rapper to win the Sound Of… since 50 Cent in 2003.

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, while September saw the release of his debut full-length mixtape, Spaceman, which won acclaim for its innovative, genre-mashing mix of trap, rave, R&B, gospel, rap, drill, dancehall and grime. 

"I get inspired and I try to make a new sound every day," said Octavian, full name Octavian Oliver Godji, upon being crowned BBC's Sound of winner. "It's going to be a very loud year for me," he added, promising "loads of music, loads of visuals, loads of albums."

"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.

Born in France and raised in London, the rapper had a turbulent, troubled upbringing and was thrown out of his mother's house aged 14. For the next few years, he was homeless, sleeping on friend's sofas as he worked on his music, winning a scholarship to the prestigious Brit School, which famously counts Adele and Amy Winehouse among its past pupils.

He would later drop out, but didn't abandon his musical ambitions and gradually built a strong following among the British hip-hop and grime scene before "Party Here" and Drake's patronage blew him up on the international stage.

"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 is:

  1. Octavian
  2. King Princess
  3. Grace Carter
  4. slow thai
  5. Rosalía