I am just getting started- Vicmass Luodollar

Vicmass Luodollar may have made his nationwide debut less than a year ago but his hard work has already cemented him in the rap industry Photo: Courtesy

Bank Otuch can very well be a slogan for a winning political party; if they can patent it. In any case, the Luo community is already claiming 'Pesa Otas' as part of their dictionary. Vicmass Luodollar who until April 2016 was a struggling artiste, is the author of the highly hyped song/ slogans and it would appear many other yet to be published anthems. But the soft spoken rapper maintains that he is not yet famous.

Born Victor Ochieng' Ondeye, Vicmass is a shy man by his own admission.

"I am a very reserved person generally but never around my fans."

I had watched him in action just a few days prior and his boisterous manner was anything but shy.

"My story has been told by almost everyone, what else would do you want to know?" he asks, looking genuinely perturbed.

I admit I took note of the song Bank Otuch when my brother, a musicologist in the USA sent me a link and asked me to analyze it. At the time it was only three weeks old and slowly catching flame locally. But like all great remixes, it was given life by Octopizzo who made his Luo rap debut with the tune.

I made a rare trip to Vicmass's apartment just outside the city for our series of chats. I was curious to compare his lifestyle to his lyrics.

I was not disappointed. If you knew his life before 2015, then his life now is an unbelievable transformation. But then his management later tells me that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

"I thank God for where he has taken me from and where he is yet to take me," he says calmly.

Slowly and articulately, Victor narrates his story in the third person, as if he is talking about someone else other than himself. Unlike most celebrities, he is not afraid to talk about the murkiness of his past.

"I have done every odd job available to make ends meet; houseboy, hawker, construction work, toilet cleaner...I did it all to make sure I could get enough cash to record. Looking back I have no regrets, if I was to turn the hands of time, I could do it all over again but now just a bit more aggressively," he says with conviction.

Born 28 years ago, Victor grew up with single mother after his father passed away. The post-election violence further pushed his already poor family back to the village and young Victor into the streets and a world of uncertainty.

"At some point I almost gave up. I had already recorded almost 40 songs and nothing was working... the people I had counted on to guide me were also inconsistent and of course my hard earned cash was at times being misused."

Dejected and on the verge of giving up, he decided to record the original 'Bank Otuch' but he still felt that something was missing.

"I decided to seek out Octopizzo for a remix. It was no easy ride though. Octopizzo was busy and on tour and even though he had received my track and said that he loved the tune, nothing happened for two months. In the two months, the original song received decent airplay and mentions but nothing earth shattering."

However, one day out of the blue, the 'Namba Nane' rapper called him back.

"I saw his number flash on my phone screen and immediately knew that something big was about to go down. I had been persistent, I had been patient and deep down I felt that Octopizzo was not one to just call me for small talk. I went prepared to record and we did, shooting a video in just under two weeks."

April 2016 saw the rebirth of Bank Otuch featuring Octopizzo and to Vicmass's surprise, the biggest long jump from an up and coming artiste to a legit rapper!

"Suddenly I was not just another struggling act but a rapper," he says tearfully, taking a moment to catch his breath.

"Do you know that feeling when you know that you are good at something but need just that one break to prove it to others? That is what I felt and I am forever grateful to Octopizzo. He gave me that platform."

But just as quickly, fans and critics branded him a one hit wonder and the pressure was therefore on to release something great and quickly.

He decided to visit his grandfather Obiero Pindwa for some inspiration and soon after released Simbe Adek in August 2016, further cementing his lyrical prowess and delivery. He credits his grandfather for his catchy lyrics. This time though he did not feature Octopizzo but is quick to mention that his mentor was present at the shoots done exclusively in Kisumu and its environs. His media tour thereafter silenced some critics and earned him some frenemies.

"This industry is lethal; people can smile at you and stab you in the back the moment you leave, that is why I trust very few people. I have learnt the hard way."

His manager Frank Bwire later confirms that Vicmass is very professional and ambitious and his hard life has made him street smart. Even though some people may misinterpret his strictness especially with paperwork, it has served his brand well.

2017 has seen Vicmass release a new jam dubbed Asante Sana featuring Bongo producer Jobanjo.

"This was unplanned, I was on a media tour in Dar and linked up with Jobanjo and decided to create something, also it is a great show of versatility on my side. It is not really the sound usually associated with me but it still has lyrics that define me," he says, adding that a bigger tune featuring Juma Nature is in the offing.

As to whether he will sustain the momentum, he says. "I live and breathe music; this is my office and my hustle. I have every intention of remaining relevant and worthy of the support accorded to me thus far."

And he means it. There are plans to tour East Africa and several video shoots in USA, Dubai, Ghana and South Africa.

The soft spoken hit master still maintains that he is not yet famous. In his own words, "I am just getting started."

Fast facts

He has 40 recorded songs

Pesa, Bank Otuch, Asante Sana are currently receiving massive airplay

His grandfather Obiero Pindwa brought him up after the death of his father. His late dad was a musician.

He is the first born in a family of four.