Take a Daytrip is the present and Octavian is the future — or, at least, he should be. On their new collaboration, the two meet: Take a Daytrip, the producing duo responsible for the chart hurricane known as Sheck Wes’s “Mo Bamba,” as well as Vince Staples’s “Home” from the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack, have put their talents behind the U.K.’s favored son. The results show right away what a good idea that was.
Mesmerizing, intense and airless, “Stressed” is what happens when the unmovable force of Octavian’s repetitive spirit meets the sinister beats of Take a Daytrip. Octavian raps, “Why you so upset/Why you so vexed/Why you upset/Why you so flex” like an incantation. Each bar is a small punch that adds to a momentum that keeps pushing forward, even if it’s not clear where it’s going. To their credit, Take a Daytrip don’t strive to overwhelm Octavian’s gruff voice. Instead, “Stressed” operates on a laid-back frequency where the drums and piercing synth underline the question the song sets out to answer: “Why you so stressed?”
Earlier this month, Octavian won BBC Music’s Sound of 2019 award. It’s been 16 years since a rapper won this honor — last time, it was 50 Cent in 2003. “A year ago I was poor, I had no money. But I was never depressed,” Octavian said in an interview with BBC. “I was never in the mode to give up. Around me it was bad, but I kept motivated.” You can hear that determination, steady and unstressed, on a song like this.