Where Octopizzo, Khaligraph, Rabbit shared the same room but did not shake hands

Octopizzo, Khaligraph, Rabbit

The three top rappers in Nairobi right now are Khaligraph, Octopizzo and Rabbit. It’s a three horse raise; no question. And they are good.

Their names always come up whenever a ‘Who is your favourite Kenyan rapper’ comes up. Pioneer legends like Vigeti have made it a point to diss them in order to (re)gain mileage. Who is even listening to him?

The recent rendezvous, three weeks ago, where the three were together in the same room for the first time in years, brought the beef to light. They were mourning their fellow friend and rapper Bobby Slick. And so when they met at the Hip-Hop Hook-Up concert, you could smell blood. They never shook hands and never looked in each other’s direction. In fact, to each other, they did not exist!

Khaligraph and Octopizzo, who have thrown shots at each other in their diss singles, have not talked to each other since 2009. They both kept a generous distance between themselves as expected with Octopizzo choosing to come in conveniently late for the concert only to do his performance and leave the venue as fast as he could, to avoid meeting with the two.

Rabbit who has time and time again denied the existence of a beef between him and any of the two rappers kept his distance, choosing to avoid interacting with any of the rappers by taking countless photos with his fans at the venue from the audience-sitting area.

Octopizzo has not made kind remarks on Rabbit’s progress in the past. He subtly tweeted how Rabbit was outshined in his star-studded Ligi Soo and Rabbit was rumoured to be taking shots at Khaligraph and his associates on the Kichinjio track.

There is no love at the top. It is all about competition. After Camp Mulla left the music scene, the rules of engagement were set. Who will be the next cat to get a BET nomination? Who will have the whole of Africa jamming to their songs? Who will have radio stations begging for interviews? Who will be King? This has been the battle among the three for close to two years now. The victor is yet to be decided.

Their individual power moves have been well noted. Rabbit wants to be noticed. The Kichinjio track and its subtle shots were ostensibly to put rappers in their place. He is the King of Eastlands, birthplace of Kenyan rap, he proclaimed on the song. Lyrically above average... the song featured no chorus. The intimidating lines were to depict to his ‘hard’ nature.

Before Kichinjio, Rabbit was largely associated with the softer Kapuka sound of Staki Kukuona, the good feel Dodoma and the poetic Swahili Shakespeare single. Great songs, but not good enough to make him the bad boy of hip hop. Few referred to him as the best rapper. He could be!

Then, there was a fresh plan! According to one Kristoff a close friend of both Rabbit and Khaligraph, the plan was to snatch the larger rap fan base attention with a hard-core track then introduce them to a new sound and get them to listen to the club friendly Kapuka singles. The plan worked. They ascended to fame and fortune.

Leta, a Kapuka single was released a couple of weeks after the hard-core Kichinjio. The buzz from the street friendly Kichinjio earned Rabbit media attention and a larger, more loyal fan base and corporate deals followed.

The truth is that Octopizzo held the hip hop crown after Camp Mulla exited the music scene in 2013. It isn’t the picture now. Octo, as he is referred to by his friends, ignored the Khaligraph diss (disrespectful) tracks and his rising wave as he was a bigger hip hop head. Now he is taking open shots at Khaligraph one year later, in a diss track, Jump PYDU and in radio/TV live interviews.

Khaligraph on the other side is faced with the dilemma of which direction to take. Going international seems too ambitious now. Ditching the New York swag for the more acceptable Afro-urban sound gets higher radio rotations, which leads to more shows from where artistes make a majority of their pay. This is war. Beef season is back!