With the new single “Swaga Za Wapi” from his upcoming album Jungle Fever, the Nairobi-based singer brings everyone together on the dance floor.
It is a unifying party track: for the young, the old, the rich, the broke, the lovers, the single, the hearts filled with despair or the ones still full of hope. This Kenyan hip-hop artist doesn’t discriminate when it comes to the good times.
It’s hard to imagine Octopizzo’s youth: coming from the biggest slum in Kenya, Henry Ohanga didn’t expect much from life. Forced to steal to eat, this orphan became famous at the age of 29. Today he is one of the most popular hip-hop artists in East Africa. With his fame, he is trying to ‘de-demonize’ the image of the Kibera slum in Nairobi by supporting abandoned young people who, like him as a child, feel like the odds are stacked against them.
Its a truly admirable project from a singer who succeeds in achieving what seemed impossible up till that point: making the artistic effervescence of Kibera fashionable, as some working-class areas are today for brands in big cities. “Before, a person who came from here couldn’t find a job anywhere, insists Octopizzo. Today, the image has changed. Young middle class people wear T-Shirts with ‘Kibera’ written on them!” he explained to the French newspaper Le Monde in 2018. In 2012, he welcomed distinguished guests to the area: the American rapper 50 Cent and a few months later, Barack Obama who was visiting his father’s country.
A true ambassador for Kibera, Octopizzo offers a more positive image, without losing his critical eye. This new video for “Swaga Za Wapi” is the perfect illustration of this: shot in Kibera in a festive spirit, the lyrics nevertheless evoke our current money-driven society. The artist expresses the way in which marriage is also governed by the salary and social status of individuals, diving into the taboo subject. To better understand the messages that the singer is trying to convey, we will have to wait for the release of his album, which connects the songs together in a singular, meaningful narrative.
Jungle Fever will be available on November 20.