Octavian’s had one hell of a week. He dropped the video for not-quite-two-minute banger “Bet” last Friday, and jumpstarted the “OK Bet Challenge” in the process. I know, I know: dance crazes linked to pop songs are starting to feel like pre-requisites for a hit that combines musical artistry with social media virality. But this one’s brilliant because it requires so little effort: you just have to jut out your neck on the beat, like a hen, and you’re sorted. Even Michael Phantom, who features on the track and hardly moves, can pull it off.
But Octavian wasn’t done with us there. The BBC Sound of 2019 poll winner now also features on "New Shapes," a new Diplo track, off the producer’s upcoming Europa EP (due out on Friday 22 February). As the name might suggest, it’s an ode to Europe – where Diplo picked up the DJing and production experience that’s made him one of pop’s biggest, if controversial, crafters of dominant sounds in the genre. I mention controversy because he's developed a penchant for pulling from the sounds of diaspora he doesn't belong to, whether as part of Major Lazer or in his work as a solo artist and producer for pop and rap's biggest names. In this case, though, "New Shapes" is bang-on.
Octavian slides over the beat sounding as relaxed as someone who's just rolled out of the sauna room in a spa, delivering each line with ease. He's always been one of those rappers who could sing his way through a line, and "New Shapes" is all melody. In terms of the production, Diplo lays a minimal-sounding beat driven by a finger clicks and a rounded synth in the verses, then propelled into the bassy rumbles of the song's choruses. I mean, I say "choruses" but this cut is like so much pop today, where the chorus is more reminiscent of a classic pop pre-chorus, or a hook. The song's icy and melancholy, yet primed to blast out your speakers: optimum for a release at this time of year, when 'how is it still winter' bleakness can easily take over. Get into it at the top of the page.
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