HHAP Episode 57: Octopizzo on Hip Hop, Refugees, and POlice Brutality in Kenya

An MC, activist, and actor, Octopizzo was born in Nairobi, in the notorious Kibera slums, one of the largest slums in the world. His mixtape and album releases include: The Come Up V 1 (2008; Mixtape), El Classico (2014; Mixtape), Chocolate City (2014; album), LDPC (2015; album), Refugeenius (2016, album), and Next Year (2018; album).

He addresses a lot of social issues, including poverty, ethnic tensions, corruption, and the legalization of marijuana. He is also one of the few MCs to seriously and consistently address the issues around refugees. Kenya is home to a lot of refugees from surrounding conflicts, including people fleeing violence in the Congo, Sudan and Somalia.

On the album Refugeenius he collaborated with 20 Refugees from Kakuma & Dadaab Refugee camps in Kenya.

Octopizzo is the founder of the youth group Y.G.B. (Young, Gifted, and Black), which is a collective of MCs, poets, graffiti artists, graphic artists, and dancers. He founded his not-for-profit Octopizzo Foundation in 2015 and through the Foundation, he tries to use culture and sports to reach the youth.

More recently he has joined other activists addressing police brutality in Kenya, and drawing parallels between police violence in Kenya & the US. Recently he was involved in protests in front of the US embassy in Nairobi, holding up a sign of people killed and injured by the police. Recently, there have ben reports of over a dozen deaths at the hands of the Kenyan police supposedly trying to enforce a dusk to dawn curfew put in place to slow the spread of Corona.

The songs featured in the episode are “Nu Afrika” in the opening and “Another Day” in the closing.

Octopizzo can be found at: http://octopizzo.com/ | @OCTOPIZZO on Twitter & Instagram

The video version of this episode is on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/ZOu5ILtZ-Vc

Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati

by Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Mwanzia Koster

Now available in paperback & on Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Hip-Hop-Social-Change-Africa/dp/1498505805

This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.