All about hip hop heavyweight Octopizzo
After more than two years of success in his music career, 26-year-old Henry Ohanga is still one of the top rappers in town.
With his jeans sagged very low, two wrist watches — one for local time and the other for the world — and more than five chains on his neck, Ohanga, better known as Octopizzo surprises many.
The artiste set himself apart from the ordinary man on the streets to become an accomplished rapper who attracts major corporate deals like bees to a flower.
“My breakthrough came very fast, but I did not let it go to my head. I am the same guy I was five years ago. It’s only that I am at another level — it’s kind of a game in which the same person plays at different levels,” he said.
Hell on earth
His success is more rewarding due to his humble beginnings. He described his childhood as ‘hell on earth’ because he lost both his parents within a year.
“My dad died in 2002 and my mother in 2003 — strangely — in the same month and I was in high school. I knew things would never be the same again,” he said.
After losing both their breadwinners, the family — made up of two boys and two girls — had to be separated as relatives took one child each to support.
“I joined my cousin who was living in Dagoretti because I was attending Kibera Glory High School. Soon I had cleared high school and I knew I would not go on to college because of the financial situation at home — I wondered what next?”
He found himself idling a lot but took small time sales jobs to get by. When the going got really tough, he joined a neighbourhood gang (which he declined to name).
The gang, he said, would ‘collect tax’ from citizens who loitered about at night and even ‘discipline’ the spouses of anyone who needed their services.
He said he cared little about anything, other than drink and drugs. And all this time, Octopizzo had no idea that he could rap. It was not passion that made him begin rapping, but his strong rebellion against the norms.
“I did not like the fact that when someone sang or wrote on Kibera, it was always negative. That is what made me start rapping about all the good things of this place I grew up in,” said Octopizzo.
His big break was in 2011 with the song On Top that was a massive hit. He later did Hivyo Hivyo.
Away from his music, he is a father of two and proudly tells me that he wants eight children by the time he is 30. He is 26 now. “I have always wanted a family of my own since mine was separated.
If I had a serious girlfriend I think I wouldn’t be far from my eighth child,” he said, laughing.
He has done a new song with Nigerian singer MI, but they have not named the release date.
As we wind up the interview, he reminds me to write how much he loved his two daughters and to tell them that they were the reason why he worked hard daily.