STAR of the Month : I-Octane quits architecture studies for music

April 20, 2017

The spark of a performance career was lit in I-Octane when he left high school and his pursuit of tertiary education ended in failure.

I-Octane told THE STAR that he wore music like a mask to hide his academic deficiencies. Notwithstanding falling short in academics, the artiste began a journey towards becoming an architect.

That, too, would be a dream thwarted by his family's financial difficulties at the time.

"I grow very poor - five of us, Mama alone. We share bed, we share clothes," I-Octane said. He said that he wanted to be the one to break his family's generational curse of poverty.

I-Octane told THE STAR that he used sports (particularly football) and music to distract him from his shortcomings in the classroom.

He described himself as the student who would be in detention or the one told to hold his ear or arm while standing in a corner.

"Any concert, mi always a try fi be a part of it because I want tomorrow morning, people nah talk 'bout di English class dat me failing. Suh people figet mi get 40 or 30 inna English, but mi shell a concert!" he exclaimed.

After leaving high school, I-Octane went on to Knox Community College, where he began studying for a two-year diploma in architecture.

Before certification, he had to complete two years at the University of the West Indies and an additional two years at the University of Technology, Jamaica.




Unfortunately for him, and perhaps a blessing to the Jamaican music industry, he was denied access to a student loan.

"My mother wasn't a registered worker. She was a higgler. That was not enough weh yuh can prove seh you can pay back the loan. Vending is a ting where yuh mek 10 grand today, and tomorrow, yuh nuh mek a dollar. For the week, nuh mek nuttin again, and on the weekend, yuh mek $200,000," he explained.

After the denial of the loan, I-Octane was faced with a decision, and he recalled the reflection as a pivotal moment in his life.

He said that he looked at his friends, some of whom had done better than he had in school, spending most of their time smoking ganja on the side of the road.

"Mi nuh wah do dah sumting deh," he said, thinking that the behaviour could expose him to unsavoury characters.

So I-Octane opted to pursue what he once hid behind.

He said that music had become a part of him and that he always found himself singing, and eventually, he composed his own tunes in competition with the music played on the airwaves.

"That was my aim - like mi need fi play on the radio," he said. He then took himself to the nearest studio, and the rest is history.

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