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Octopizzo on CNN’s African Voices: I wanted to make Kibera ‘cool’

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Whilst musicians look to get people to move to their sounds, it is often harder to find meaning behind the music. For many African artists, music is the motivator they use to make their mark on society.

On this week’s ‘African Voices’ from Nairobi, Kenya, the programme meets Octopizzo, a Swahili hip hop artist who uses his music to shine a light on an area of the city that is often neglected.

Octopizzo grew up in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, housing around a fifth of Nairobi’s population.

Octopizzo explains the impact growing up in the area had on him to ‘African Voices’: “Growing up, I wanted to make ‘being’ from Kibera, cool. That was my number one goal, as a rapper. A kid that grows up here, can somewhere and say, ‘Yeah, I’m from Kibera, man. I want to be a doctor’, and people would take him seriously.”

As someone who lost his parents when he was only 15, Octopizzo learnt how to grow up fast. Despite his success, when Octopizzo returns to Kibera, he tries to encourage others to follow their dreams and achieve.

The hip-hop artist has his own charity, the Octopizzo Foundation, who seek to aid young people in slums through art, music and sport.

Octopizzo explains his vision to ‘African Voices’: “Under these iron sheets, there’s babies, presidents, the next Octopizzo, everybody’s in here. Only if they meet the right person in their life. If they make the right choices.”

‘African Voices’ learns that, as well as his foundation, the hip hop artist has used his own music to educate others about life in Kibera.

Octopizzo explains to the programme: “There is no song that doesn’t have the name ‘Kibera’, and it will remain like that… Coming here from experiencing the other side of life. It hurts. It hurts that some people can’t afford to have a better life.”

‘African Voices’ learns that although Octopizzo has taken his family out of Kibera, he feels that displaying and discussing the hardships within the slums through his music is the best way to address the issues in the community.

Octopizzo tells ‘African Voices’: “We’re bringing you (CNN’s ‘African Voices’) to show the other stuff that people don’t think about. There are kids going to school, kids playing football.  Artists like us that are rapping and trying to change stuff… You see it!  You don’t read it.  And it makes you a different person.”

Also featured on the programme is Durban-based musician, DJ Lag. The South African artist has created, and found success through, a new type of music inspired by tribal sounds called Gqom,

‘African Voices’ also meets the eclectic musician Bobo in Marrakech, Morocco, who channels the spirit of Bob Marley in the ancient city.

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