“It’s just honest innit.” A woman’s voice opens Oscar #Worldpeace’s Recluse. “True life, what you’re going through. You probably feel as though you’re still struggling. You want to get out of this struggle basically…” she continues. The voice is Oscar’s mother, and the words were taken from a candid recording that he made during a conversation with her.
The Tottenham rapper and producer has spent the past few years building a cult following. For those paying attention, his string of single releases and their accompanying visuals have demonstrated immense potential and undeniable artistic vision. However, periods between these releases could be anything from a couple of months to a year. It took a long time for Oscar to finally be satisfied enough to deliver a debut album.
It was worth the wait.
Recluse walks the delicate balance of cold reality and fiery ambition. His lyrics are drawn from the North London streets that shroud him when he steps out of his front door. He tells the tales of working class dreamers, and does so in a way that inspires rather than depresses: his infectious-but-relatable lyrics are soundscapes by hypnotic bass-heavy instrumentals, drawing from the UK Garage, Jungle and Drum ’n’ Bass that would be played around his house as a kid, as well as the Grime sets that he’d shell in his kitchen with his cousins.
“When people say to me, ‘Your album sounds so British.’ That’s all it is,” he explains, one afternoon as he makes preparations for his forthcoming headline debut at Bethnal Green’s Sebright Arms. “My mum was raised in Broadwater Farm Estate in Harringey, one of the most notorious estates in London. And my dad’s from Pembury Estate in Hackney, East London, which is the same thing. I’m just telling their story, and this is the music I grew up on. I speak to people and I realise we are all like this, there’s no one different to any of us and especially to my mum.” His mother only discovered that she’d been recorded for Recluse when she purchased a copy from iTunes. Initially she wasn’t too happy. “She understands,” says Oscar. “She wasn’t angry, it was just ‘My voice just doesn’t sound nice. If I could redo it I would sound a lot different.’ But she understands who I am. ‘Oscar is always going to be honest, I can’t stop him, I can’t break his creativity.’ She’s so supportive of me.”
That first track, ‘Invent’, sees him unloading his current mindset and Oscar describes it as his “most personal” offering. This feeling has been amplified since its release, with Tweets and direct messages from his fans and followers demonstrating how many others relate to his own thoughts and feelings. “Sometimes I don’t even know [the impact] of what I’m writing,” he admits. “I don’t know that I’m going to feel [the same] in a couple of weeks. When I’m listening to ‘Invent’ I almost have tears in my eyes, especially hearing my mum at the beginning. For the first time ever, my own music is giving me goosebumps.”