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Octopizzo is a prolific Kenyan rapper and activist whose music frequently addresses issues of poverty, tribal wars, and urban struggle. Rising out of the slums of Nairobi in the late 2000s, he found success with his 2008 mixtape S.O.N. (Strugglers of Nairobi) and continued to establish himself over subsequent releases in a variety of formats including albums like 2016's ambitious Refugeenius and 2018's Next Year.
Born and raised in the massive Nairobi slums of Kibera, Henry Ohanga was shaped by his urban surroundings and the influence of American hip-hop forebears like Jay-Z, Chino XL, and Supernatural. After returning home to Nairobi from college in Mombasa, Ohanga took on the name Octopizzo, competing in freestyle battles, writing songs, and building up his reputation around the capital city. He made his name in the late 2000s around a series of mixtapes that were largely informed by the tumult and struggles of life in the city's slums. 2008's S.O.N. sold quite well and raised his profile, as did his activism; he founded the community-based organization Y.G.B. (Young, Gifted, and Black) and served as a youth ambassador for Universal Peace Federation Kenya and UMaY (Uplifting Men and Youth in Africa).
Throughout the 2010s, Octopizzo delivered an impressive succession of singles, EPs, and albums, earning critical attention for releases like 2014's Chocolate City and his unique 2016 double album Refugeenius, which involved collaborations with refugees from the Kenyan refugee camps Dadaab and Kakuma. His 2018 album Next Year incorporated soul and jazz influences, and he spent the next two years releasing a variety of singles including 2019's Sailors collaboration "Wakiritho" and 2020's "Che Che" featuring Barak Jacuzzi. ~ Timothy Monger