Ocean Wisdom is a beast emerging from Brighton on the South coast.
Signed to High Focus records, he burst onto the UK hip hop scene with his first track ‘Walking’ when he was only 18, having legend Dirty Dike on the production.
Three years later after its release, in Feb 2016, he arrived with his debut album ‘Chaos 93’, also completely produced by Dike and featuring powerhouses of UK hip hop such as The Four Owls, Lunar C, Kalashnikov and Foreign Beggars. ‘Chaos 93’ went on to win Wordplay album of the year, fighting off competition from fellow High Focus players in Fliptrix and Dabbla.
Ocean’s unique style is defined by his inhuman speeds of rapping. He can double-time like no other and in a 2016 BBC 1Xtra Fire in the Booth session showed everyone he was a problem that needed to be addressed.
Some claim he’s the fastest rapper in the world. When you watch him perform you can see the concentration that goes into his craft.
I wanted to capture Ocean in his element when he’s proving he’s one of the best emcee’s around. I opted for a pose where he’s spitting fire and you can see the concentration in his expression.
His scrunched up face makes it look like it almost causes him pain to reach these inhuman speeds of spitting – how he’s even breathing nobody knows!
What everyone does know is that he’s dedicated his youth to becoming a master of his craft when others were out partying. Ocean Wisdom’s skill at such a young age is backed up by his incredible hustle.
This is one of the main reasons I wanted to illustrate Ocean. He really understands the meaning of hip hop, dedicating his life to being the best at his craft.
My favorite part of creating this illustration was capturing his facial expression. By showing Ocean in this pose it meant removing one of the most important defining features of a person – their eyes. In this case the opposite was true as I feel this is the expression, the moment of concentration, which defines his character the most.
Process of Illustration
I built up the detail in the piece through multiple tones of colour, which added depth to the expression.
At first it didn’t look like this would work. You can see the early stages on the process photos below. Any artist will know that point on the creative process where you think, “This is going to look terrible.” Then with a little perseverance and adjustment, things start to come together.
Instead of having flat color on the T-shirt I started to design a wave pattern, inspired by Japanese Tsunami art.
This simple repeating pattern depicting a rough sea full of energy is a reference to Ocean himself; and not just because of his name.
His appearance on the UK hip hop scene has been making waves and getting everybody excited. The movement in the ocean reflects this.