The Edge talks to up-and-coming Hackney-based rapper Ogmios about the origins of his stage name, his writing process and who he wants to battle next.
Why did you choose the name Ogmios?
Ogmios is a Celtic god of eloquence and persuasion. I found him in a book of mythological characters I used to have and it seemed a good name to express the highest aspiration of a rapper or poet. Plus he’s a bald god so I identified with him even more. I don’t know if there are any other bald gods…
When did you get into battle rap? There must have been a moment when you decided to go for it…
I only started watching battle rap and Don’t Flop about 6 months before I decided to apply for a tryout. Initially I enjoyed it but didn’t know if it was for me because of the aggression in some of the clashes and the nature of some of the content but the more battles I watched with the likes of Cruger, Oshea, Jolly Jay, Stowaway and others the more I realised that Don’t Flop welcomed different styles and approaches. I was also becoming more aware of and captivated by the technical side of it, the wordplay, angles etc.. and that sparked the creative hunger in me to get involved and test myself in this format.
I contacted Don’t Flop and they gave me a tryout battle in January 2012 against Heavy Duty.
What is your writing process? Your schemes are often very intricate?
Usually I start in a very scattered way, a lot of snippets of ideas and angles here and there. Then some of those turn into longer schemes or extended ideas. At a certain point when I have quite a lot of material, I will group it into similar themes that overlap and then finally flesh it out into how it will work over the 3 rounds. This is how it might go generally for me anyway.
I do like to write in quite a layered way and sometimes to have a narrative that connects everything if possible in a round or over 3 rounds.
I once wrote a scheme so intricate that it disappeared back into the quantum flux of potential. I’ll never get it back. But that’s okay.
What is your favourite/least favourite of all your performances?
I think my least favourite is probably vs Bamalam, not just because I lost but it was probably my most tired delivery and I didn’t know my content well enough to do it justice.
I’m reasonably happy with all my other performances, still plenty of room for improvement though.
You’re one of the most laid back battlers on the scene at the moment. Is that style crafted? Do you feel that it has ever hindered you?
Well it’s not really crafted in the sense that I am genuinely a laid back person so I guess it’s my natural style.
I don’t think it has really hindered me too much so far, I feel like I’ve been getting the appropriate battles and opportunities relative to my progress. Similar styles do tend to get matched up more though so I’m less likely to be thought of to battle someone with an aggressive style but it can still happen when there are other reasons that the battle would make sense.
And it’s also up to me to step up my game even more if I don’t want my style to hold me back from getting good battles.
I think my performing side will still progress. One problem has been that I haven’t been able to discipline myself to get the writing finished by more than a day or two before a battle so I often don’t have the time to really have it cemented in my brain and you can see me reaching for it sometimes. It seems that the creative force doesn’t kick in until the deadline is really looming, but I’m trying to change that habit.
I would never force an aggressive style, I do get passionate about certain things though so that might come out more in the future but only if I naturally feel that in relation to what I have written.
Have you got a favourite UK battler?
I don’t have one favourite but there are many I rate a lot. What I like about the UK scene is how many different types of battler there are with their own original presence or writing style. Of course there are amazing battlers in America and Canada but I see a higher proportion of battlers who seem to just be derivatives of other battlers or have put together a default rap battler style with all the accompanying affectations. Obviously all us battle rappers are influenced by each other and the changing trends that go on, but its more about building on that in creative ways rather than cynically appropriating them.
Back to the question though, Cruger, Oshea, Cee Major, Tony D, Adam the Rapper, Jolly Jay, Mark Grist…are a few off the top that I always check for but I could name another 10 easily.
Have you got a favourite international battler?
Again, I don’t have one favourite but I can drop a few names off the top: Loaded Lux, 100 Bulletz, Real Deal, Bender, Dirt, Star Almighty, Daylyt I’ve been enjoying watching Rupert Common from KOTD too, he’s definitely bringing something fresh amongst the clones of Ground Zero who all merge into one battler called Step Easy or something similar.
Is battling just a secondary hobby to your music making? Is there more music on the way?
I wouldn’t say it is secondary at all. They are two different creative outlets for me. There is more music on the way. I’m working on my second album for release later this year and I’m also working on a couple side projects/EPs with other artists.
How has battling helped increase your fan base/improved your music?
Certainly battling has been great in terms of getting new people to listen to my music. It is a measurable thing too, I get spikes in the sales and downloads of my album when I do a battle.
I think being involved in battle rap is improving my writing in general. I can’t think of another format where you get such immediate and specific feedback on what you write and this makes you consider every word carefully. Over beats you can get away with being more self indulgent or vague which is fine but I feel my writing for music is becoming more structured and impactful thanks to battling.
What do you do when you’re not battling/making music?
I play ping pong and meditate and drink homemade herbal teas. Then I compose ecstatic poetry and then burn it and write battle bars and then I answer interview questions in a self indulgent way with some tangents and foolishness.
How much do you read into trolling in Youtube comments on your videos? It must be hard to ignore them 100%… although many of the top comments on your battles are very favourable.
I’m grateful for the support I get from the Youtube faithful, some of them be rewinding my intricate schemes and discussing them on forums. This is model behavior. Others just show love in the comments and that’s fully blessed. Big up to all my followers and everyone who supports me, it is so motivating when I see that there’s people who get and enjoy where I’m coming from.
What are your views on video judging? As MA said after your battle with Mos Prob you’re the type of battler who you need to re-watch a few times to fully understand. That would suggest you would be in favour of video judging?
I’m definitely a fan of video judging and I’m a fan of judged battles in general, it’s part of the fun and most people can appreciate wrong decisions can be made and everyone will decide for themselves who won anyway.
As a judge I prefer having the opportunity to watch the battles a few times if necessary and really take in the performances and content.
I think it also opens up more interesting debate on what makes good battle bars and delivery and that can only be good for the scene and as battlers we should welcome that discussion and dissection of our material and style. I’ve seen an example fairly recently of a judge breaking down why he thought certain bars were not strong and the battler in question responded with abuse on social networks. If he disagreed he should have explained why he backs those bars and further the debate without getting too emotional about it.
Who do you next want to battle? There has been talk of Nils M Skills potentially happening, would you maybe change up your style for him?
I don’t have anyone particular in mind, we’ll see what unfolds.
Since I first started battling, people have suggested me vs Nils M Skils I think because we both have laid back styles. I would be up for battling him and I might have to switch my style just so people don’t fall asleep. But I’m a ticking time bomb anyway and all this pent up mellowness is ready to explode at any moment. You probably won’t notice when it does though. Peace
Ogmios released his debut album The Last Picnic last year and is planning a new album for release later in the year.