CELEB BUZZ: The trouble with Octopizzo



By PHILIP ETEMESI
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Octopizzo and I have a love-hate social media relationship. He keeps blocking and unblocking me various platforms. I am not so sure why. He should just make up his mind whether I am a persona non grata or ally.

Despite Octo’s seasonal disdain towards me, I’ve always defended him. I defended him when Khaligraph’s fans were lambasting him for giving us kindergarten rhymes such as “Unadai nikujenge, nitakujengaje buda na wewe sio building.”

The indolent lyrics aside, I hold the opinion that he’s the best rapper in Kenya.

 I think Noma Ni, with its verbal musicality, is one the greatest local hip hop songs ever made. The delivery on it is elastic and hefty.

There’s a punch line shoved at you from every angle, every second, and if you aren’t keen enough, you’ll miss four or five of them. It’s actually my favourite Kenyan song this year.

But every time I begin to really respect the showy rapper, he ends up doing something to make me question his artistry.

On August 8, Octopizzo released a video titled “Oliel”. The song itself was average enough to evaporate from your memory as soon as it ended but the video was neatly done, with color and dance choreography that remained embedded inside your retina long after viewing. In less than 24 hours, it had 1.3 million views on YouTube.

In a normal scenario, people would applaud such an achievement and sing praises but that’s not what happened. Keen fans declared that this lightning rise in viewership figures was suspicious hence they sounded the alarm.

Octopizzo getting 1.3 million views in less than 24 hours? Impossible! Word immediately started spreading around that the rapper had doctored his figures – he had bought YouTube views.

 The point was that it’s indeed possible for an African artiste to garner such numbers in that timeframe but Octopizzo wasn’t the kind to do that. He is simply not in that league yet.  

Even Davido and Wizkid rarely get over 1 million views in under 24 hours. In Kenya, the high performers like Sauti Sol and Nyashinski usually take about four days to a full week to get over a million views

So, how did Octopizzo manage this?

There are two possible scenarios. The first scenario is that he is guilty as charged – he indeed bought views. A section of music fans often argues that it’s impossible to cook YouTube figures but it’s not. A quick ‘Buy YouTube Views’ search on Google will present you with a buffet of websites offering this service. Some of the peddlers use internet bots to spike your views (which is risky and could lead to account termination) while the smart ones create multiple IP addresses in just a few computers to view the video many different times.

Note that YouTube views are calculated as per the IP address that accesses the video not as per the person that actually watches the video. Computer geeks in developed countries are able to establish thousands of IP addresses to boost numbers for a video. It’s a lot of work but if a clout-hungry artiste is paying you good money to do it, then why not?

Another possible scenario is that Octopizzo acquired the views genuinely by sponsoring Oliel in foreign countries. Anyone can pay YouTube to sponsor their video hence it’ll appear as an advertisement in any country.

 When Oliel came out, fans questioned why despite having such high views, it wasn’t even in the top ten trending videos in Kenya.

YouTube usually ranks the trending videos based on metrics such as view count, comments, likes and shares. The fact that Oliel wasn’t trending in Kenya was possibly because it was getting viewed in other countries.

Even if the latter was the case, he did so without wisdom. Why couldn’t he have sponsored the video slowly so that the numbers would rise gradually? If I was to wake up with 1 million followers tomorrow, people would definitely call me out, even if I acquired these followers genuinely by maybe sponsoring my account in a hundred other countries. But if I was to gain these followers in like a six month period, it would be more believable.     

Equally, if Octopizzo was to get 1 million views in one week, people wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

However, if I was to play judge and jury, I’d give the verdict that out of the two scenarios (buying views and sponsoring videos), the former is most likely what happened. He actually might have obtained the views illicitly. I must stress that these are my thoughts and not those of Nation Media.

The best way to know that the figures were fraudulent is that as soon as people began questioning, the numbers stopped growing at the quick rate that they had on the first day. It’s like he pumped the breaks on the ‘view buying.’ We didn’t see 2.6 million the next day and 3.8 million the day after that day. The song could even be at 10 million by now if it was indeed that popular or if he had sponsored it. In fact, despite hitting 1.3 million the first day, it had only moved to 1.4 million after 3 days.

I say this because Octopizzo has a history of pulling such stunts and hoping he’d remain invisible.

The best way to judge someone is by studying their past deeds right?

A few years ago, Octopizzo lied about collaborating with American R&B crooner August Alsina in the song “Could Be Us”. It was later discovered that the vocals belonged to an underground Latina singer who was actually the original owner of the song. Octopizzo had just added his verses on someone’s song and released it as his. Even the August Alsina later denied working with Octopizzo after someone questioned him on Twitter.

And when he released the song Jump, Octopizzo first claimed that the beats were done by popular American producer DJ Mustard. It was later discovered that Mustard had nothing to do with it.   

Octopizzo is a good rapper. When his flow reaches equilibrium – vowels and similes packed in alignment- very few can match him. Ever since he properly made a name for himself with Ivo Ivo, he has remained a respected monarch at the top of Kenya’s rap hierarchy.

His major problem is that he goes about his affairs with a lack of wisdom. He just keeps making poor decisions in the name of promoting his brand. Rookie mistakes if I may call them that.

If he was in an industry that valued realness, such actions would have sunk him already. But he doesn’t change because no one really holds him accountable.  Imagine someone like Drake buying views or lying about a collabo. That would be the end of his career.

His obsession with Khaligraph is also unhealthy. Almost every song he releases nowadays contains a covert shot at Khaligraph. Even “Oliel” has one. Meanwhile, Khaligraph doesn’t seem to care. He just goes about his business.

I feel that Khaligraph’s recent success has really unsettled him. He is feeling the need to prove himself again. That’s why he might have felt the need to manually engineer his views and not let them grow organically.

Octopizzo needs wisdom, he needs it bad. And if he refuses to drink from the cup of good decisions, then may the time come when he can no longer serve up dirty tricks and get away with it

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