As he puts it, OC from NC is “a regular-ass dude” from North Carolina.

The Burlington rapper, though, is far from regular. His verbal dexterity, introspective storytelling, and consistent musical output position him as one of the best rappers in North Carolina. And if you ask OC, born Octavius Dion Taylor, he is “the best rapper here.”

His rapping style continues the foundation of hip-hop; rapping over boom-bap beats, demonstrating advanced lyricism, and championing his signature style of rapping, which takes place, not over an instrumental track, but to a live beat set played by his producer and longtime collaborator, B-Square. The innovative gesture always keeps audiences engaged.

Today, almost 50 years after the birth of hip-hop, the musical landscape changes and shifts frequently. We even see veteran emcees changing their sound, to keep up with whatever is current or whatever is trending. But OC remains motivated to stick to hip-hop’s core by remembering his introduction to it, at the age of 10, when he heard Wu-Tang, Biggie, and Nas.

“I didn’t ever really hear any ‘bullshit hip-hop,’” he says, describing his style by emphasizing “real, real, real, real, real” hip-hop. The INDY spoke with OC about Southern lyricism, and musical influences, and upcoming projects.

INDY Week: When did you start rapping?

OC From NC: I’ve always been kind of nerdy. I was a writer really young. I’ve always written poetry or actual stories in middle school and high school. Around 2013 or so, my family member was just like, ‘If we have CDs of you we would listen to you all the time. You’re dope.” At the end of 2013, we did our first show and it was very successful. In 2014 we released our first actual mixtape called Twenty14. 

Being from North Carolina, was your introduction to northern hip-hop a result of the commercialization? Or did somebody put you on it?

I grew up in a country area in North Carolina, the Caswell County area. My older cousins had moved to Burlington before my family transitioned to the area. When they would come pick me up on the weekends, and on that ride up, it would be like, ‘listen to this boy, this is what’s hot right now type of shit.’ Luckily for me, they happened to be listening to the right artists.

You did an interview recently where the interviewees premiered your music and were surprised that you can rap because you’re from the South. How does it make you feel when folks think that Southern artists don’t have lyrics?

It’s outrageous, but also it says a lot about how we’re being presented to the world. North Carolina didn’t just start getting dope. Yes, I was influenced heavily by those northern acts, you know, at a young age, but when I was in my 20s, this was like a 9th Wonder world! People were RAPPING! Phonte was rapping. Pooh was rapping. Medium was rapping. There were rappers who were very dope.

I just don’t think that—outside of 88.7 and certain college stations—I can’t remember a time when there was an artist here in North Carolina, who was dope in the sense of [“real hip-hop”] and was pushed by the state.

I think that has a lot to do with it. I don’t turn the radio on and hear dope lyricists when I get in my car. So it doesn’t surprise me at all. But at the same time, it’s more like, ‘yeah, you missed out, I wish you knew how dope artists from here are, but at least you caught on right now.’

Tell me about your most recent and upcoming projects.

The most recent project was Dope Sell Itself, which is produced by B-Squared and D.R.U.G. Beats. It was a little different because I’m dealing with two producers, and it’s kind of hard to maneuver a certain way with multiple producers, especially of that caliber. But it was easy as hell because they’re both dope.

Me and DJ Flash have a full album that drops on October 31st titled The God’s Talk. You know he’s been DJing for Little Brother and 9th for a while, but he got into production like five years ago. I was kind of listening to what he was doing, and I liked the direction he was going in. It’s got that you know, North Carolina feel, so it felt right. The project is like soul music from the 70s with bars from the 90s. And of course, it has that boom-bap feel. It’s definitely a combination of soul and hip hop.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Nas, Black Thought, Mos Def, Common, Ye.’ I’m a big Kanye fan. He has always been so ahead of the trends or creating trends throughout his career.

What is your favorite accomplishment of your rap career thus far?

I got a simple funny answer, cause it could be a lot. But my mama called me while she was on a trip. Shade 45 had played my song like three times in two days. She was bugging! Had a whole group of old folks listening to DJ Premier to see if my song was gonna play again. Then it does. Day, week, month, year, made!

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