Ocean Wisdom invaded Newcastle University’s student union with a lyrical force so powerful that by the end of the concert the crowd had developed a collective repetitive strain injury from constantly shaking their heads.
Wisdom walked onto the stage humble and chill from the start and dripping like a stylish rainbow in a colourful North Face. Rapper and personal hype man Sleazy F kept the energy high throughout the concert, rapping and dancing alongside Wisdom whilst expertly maintaining gas levels. The set felt more like a relaxed house party with Sleazy F, the cameraman and the DJ sipping Courvoisier and apple juice from paper cups while Wisdom spat fluid and rapid into the unsuspecting mic.
The rapper brought a playful and real energy to the stage, pretending to box the camera and talking to the audience as if we were friends listening to music together: “listen to the beat on this one, this one’s crazy” and “you got time for some more?” One of the first songs Wisdom graced us with was ‘4AM’; the opening melodic whine had the audience moving before the beat and the bass throbbed through the room and Wisdom’s wisdom was fired at us in lyrical bullets.
The artist had the audience shouting “main road” while he spat faster than the baddest auctioneer and with a lot more rhythm. It is important to stress how insane Ocean Wisdom’s flow really is; it’s not just the pure speed at which the flames flow out of his mouth, it’s how effortless he makes it look. Often Wisdom just stood, hardly moving, spitting like it was nothing while the crowd went crazy. It’s hard to imagine where Wisdom will go next, given the level he is already at, but his vision was simply: “every year more love, more people, more energy.”
Between more serious bars Wisdom delivered some funkier anthems like ‘Fatboy’, which had the audience grooving to the jazzy riffs and complex rhythms. What was particularly striking about Ocean Wisdom’s performance was his musical variety yet consistently impressive delivery. It feels as though Wisdom is possessed by a gift that overflows from him with a quiet power that is calmly captivating. Given that this was his twenty third show in a row, the energy he brought on stage was fresh and lively. Halfway through the concert Wisdom started rapping freestyle, saying after, “cut that fucking shit man, that wasn’t even a song man, I just wanted to drop some flows and let you lot fucking know.” The speed and rhythm of the rap did more than let us know, it schooled us.
Near the end of the show, Wisdom told the audience, “they’re telling me one more but we’re gonna play two cos fuck that” before hydrating us with more of Ocean’s spray and closing the set with notorious tune, ‘Revvin’. During the last song, Sleazy F handed his mic over to an enthusiastic audience member who proceeded to rap part of the song. Audience engagement featured throughout the set with Ocean fist-bumping the crowd and asking us how we were feeling the whole way through. Wisdom didn’t seem to bring any ego on stage, showing us that you don’t need a lot to bless Newcastle’s audiences with one of the best concerts in a while. Ghetts is right, forget Smart Water, we fuck with Ocean Wisdom.
Words: Rosie McCrum
Photos: Syd Lawther