On a recent Monday evening, Octavion X is recording in his studio. But the local rapper and hip-hop impresario isn’t working on an album. He’s creating voice-overs for a local commercial.
“My voice sounds like a weird super-villain,” he says, with a dark laugh. “It’s kind of an odd job. Once I dropped off some of [local artist] Ohbliv’s music at Adult Swim in Burbank, California, and they were begging me to do stuff.”
When it comes to hip-hop, the world’s most popular form of music, Richmond hasn’t produced as many national artists as you might expect. The reasons are many, as explored in a recent Style cover story. But Octavion X says he was tired of hearing negativity, so he decided to do something about it.
Six years ago he co-founded Epic Fest with Cain McCoy, who now lives in Los Angeles. The festival showcases local rappers of all levels at various city venues.
“We saw something that wasn’t going to change unless we physically forced it to change,” X says, also mentioning his website, Slapdash RVA, which is going through a re-branding. “We try to branch a lot of culture together between art, music and fashion. Just pushing Richmond, Richmond, Richmond everything.”
It doesn’t stop here. X uses his connections to arrange Richmond artist showcases across the country, from New York to California. One of his favorites took place at the famous South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, in 2012. “We put a stage there and flooded it with Richmond rap,” he recalls, adding that it sold out.
Originally from Queens, New York, X moved to Richmond when he was 14 and started rapping right away. He’s since put out about 12 albums, both solo and group efforts. To his credit, he’s about more than his own career. Next year, he says, he’s excited about moving Epic Fest to the fall when Virginia Commonwealth University students will be around.
“Hopefully when they go back to wherever, they take a part of the culture with them,” he says. “You never know 10 years from now, what kind of effect it can have on somebody.”