His first project away from High Focus Records, ‘Big Talk Vol 1’ comes after Ocean Wisdom announced his creation and signing to Warner label ‘Beyond Measure’ earlier this year. Both ‘Chaos 93’ and ‘Wizville’ revelled in boom-bap beats and other classic hip-hop components that have subverted the sonics coming out of large parts of England recently. This however, is a completely new era for the Brighton emcee, one where he seems to have more creative reign than on previous mixtapes. Not only is the soundscape far more diverse, the project holds a stronger narrative - one that follows Wisdom in the industry trying to deal with executives pestering him for hits.
Throughout the record, Allan Mustafa (who you may know as MC Grindah) voices the character of a coke head manager, discontent with Ocean’s grind and the music he is producing. The album articulates the 26 year old’s responses to him, allowing Wisdom the freedom to experiment with 808 beats and production from the likes of Fatboy Slim - whilst maintaining the hip-hop philosophy he established in his time at High Focus. Carns Hill’s production on ‘MR FIX IT’ is unorthodox in comparison to his decade defining drill tendencies; the trappier tone to this single withholds an infectious baseline, and is inherently groovy. Describing Wiz’s flow as versatile has an air of unoriginality nowadays, however his ability to intonate between double time raps and catchy, slurry hooks on this one is very unique to anything coming from the U.K.
You can tell the Camden native has really relished the opportunity to experiment on Big Talk; the difference between pit ready hits like ‘BREATHIN’, featuring P Money, and more conscious tracks in the calibre of ‘VOICES IN MY HEAD’ is quite extraordinary, but they touch you with similar emotive effect. The sensitive lyricism Ocean offers, as he reflects on a troubled past, “I went through a phase when I was 16, it was weird. I used to want to murder people, voices in my head”, illustrates how much of an outlet his art is for dealing with upbringing and personal insecurities. The proceeding skit ‘VERY CLEVER’ accentuates the heartless nature of the music industry, highlighting the precarious, bipolar attitudes managers can have towards clients - Mustafa labels the tune as ‘emotional bullocks’, but to Wiz it is one that seems to really mean a lot.
The range of styles U.K hip-hop is producing nowadays is a testament to artists like Wiz; the collaboration with rave donnie Fatboy Slim is quite the tune. His multi-syllabic rhyme schemes boss the vintage beat and expand the palette of the album. If engaged with passively, you may find the LP a bit all over the place, but in It’s context songs like this really excel.
Another highlight is ‘Yung Boy’, which shares the essence of previous mixtape ‘Wizville’: “at this age, how are them man drug taking?” has to be one of the hardest opening bars to a track all year, with the Funky Friday reference slapping harder than your Gran's handbag. A few cuts are hard to care for, ‘Chicken Wing’ in particular doesn’t live up to the same standard as a lot of the record. The beat falls a bit flat, and in all seriousness, not even Ocean Wisdom’s lyricism can save a song named after a Kentucky fried delicacy.
October’s been a bit of a dry month for music, by 'BIG TALK VOL.1' has definitely spiced it up. Go and give it a listen.