Khaligraph Jones has awakened fierce musical war in Kenya and Tanzania.
During a recent interview with comedian and media broadcaster Oga Obinna on his Obinna Live Show, Khaligraph claimed he was the best rapper in Kenya.
“Let us be honest, when it comes to rap, who can beat me? Maybe fashion-wise, but rap never. Nyashinski is good, but cannot beat me. Abbas, I can never compare myself to him. As for Nyashinski, I respect him - and I respect the OG’s and he is on another level, but now we are peers and he writes well. Whether it is Breeder, Trio, Scar - I am their influence,” said Khaligraph.
When asked about long-time arch-rival Octopizzo, Khaligraph refused to acknowledge him as a rapper, only complimenting his imagery on social media.
“I have no beef with the guy. But I understand him; if I was him I would not like me. I am 33 years old and I have outgrown that. He is doing his thing and has nice photos. Octo is a good model, I respect him. He came from Kibera and had nothing, and he is elevated. I respect that grind, but rap-wise, he can never beat me,” he said.
After the crossfire via social media with both fanbases going at each other, Khaligraph took to Instagram Live to assert his claims. He said he had nothing to prove and should focus on conquering Tanzania now.
“Tanzania you have 24 hours to respond to me or I will launch an attack and take over your whole industry,” said the OG.
Before going live on Instagram, an interview during a Coke Studio event went viral as Khaligraph pushed the idea that the Kenyan music industry is as promising if not more promising than Tanzania’s.
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“This self-hate culture in Kenya needs to stop. Even these Tanzanians we are heaping praise on, are not a match for Kenya. They have nothing on us. It is only because Kenyans believe that we are not doing well, but if you go to Tanzania, you will realise it is not true,” said Khaligraph.
Following the interview doing rounds on social media, Khaligraph decided to launch an onslaught of Tanzanian rappers.
He said if there were any talented rappers in the contemporary scene, to prove it by uploading a record in a day. He further fired that they should stay away from Amapiano.
In 24 hours, Tanzania rap elites such as femcee Rosa Ree’s Mama Omollo, Msodoki Young Killer's Khali Majonzi, Motra The Future's Arap Moi Jr, and Songa's Kali Sio Jones were top on the charts.
Khaligraph would receive rallying support from Kenya’s hip-hop fraternity in Shekinah Karen and Breeder LW, Bueno. Khaligraph himself would release freestyle tracks to show camaraderie with OG.
Octopizzo following the unfolding fight from the sidelines would air out his views on X, seemingly sending subliminal jabs at Khaligraph.
“Kenyan rapper still desperate for validation and clout 10 years later. Picking fights with everyone to stay afloat and relevant. Sad indeed. Hope you heal from what you are going through cause it is showing differently. That is not hip-hop. That is a cry for help,” he wrote via X.
Hip hop journalist and aficionado Benson Kirobi from The Address said this is a strategy to promote Khaligraph’s upcoming album.
“This has to do with regional expansion. Kenyan culture is no longer restricted to the borders. I do not think it has much to do with beef than it is him expanding his narrative across the borders. It is no secret that Khaligraph is in the studio working on an album, so he is drumming up support from the region before the album materialises. I think it is part of the release plan to get regional support,” said Benson.
Indeed, Khaligraph has released a single off the album titled Kwame featuring a Tanzanian heavyweight in Harmonize in a bid to penetrate the Bongo market.
And in Kenya’s contemporary scene, artistes such as Gotta City and Mbogi Genje, Buruklyn Boyz and GTA all have differences.
“We only picked a bone with Mbogi Genje because they bit our style and ran with the narrative that that was their style when they know what they did,” said Madocho from Gotta City.
Dissatisfaction is a result of an idea, or values conflicting with the opposing side.
Rapper Big Yasa associated with Buruklyn Boyz, appearing on multiple tracks with them including Bad Boys Club and Last Air Bender take a jab at their rivals, Drill group GTA - a battle that has been keeping Kenyan Drill fans hooked as the two sides trade verbal artillery through records and social media. “I do not even know who GTA are,” he said.
His comments forced GTA rapper Mando to share DM’s about Buruklyn Boy rapper Ajay, asking for a collaboration between the two.
“I just see them on social media. I cannot tell who is who. If they (GTA) feel there is any tension, let us take it to the streets. I do not talk on the internet,” said Big Yasa, implying Natty and GTA are internet rappers and have no impact in real life.
Besides rappers today going back and forth over the internet, the generational template even from femcees such as Njeri and Femi One seems to be inspiring this generation in handling their issues by trading barbs over music.
“If you are tapped in, clearly Kenyan drill is the coolest, purest vibes with no violence or gang beefs in the raps as portrayed in Europe or some parts of the world. Here it is just art and guys relaying their stories on a drill beat in Sheng, which is the coolest thing if you ask me,” said Yasa.
And international music journalist Tela Wangeci said the complaints in Kenya are purely musical.
“Do they exist? Feuds between individuals or groups? I know there is a lot of rivalry in the KE Drill scene, both friendly and not-so-friendly. I do not want to mention names, but I am sure you often hear in some of the songs released. Rappers jump to show their lyrical prowess of similar beats or throw subliminals that jog up your mind of another artiste,” she said.
Tela said hip hop is known to rarely have a calm moment, especially when conversations such as best lyricist, and best rap verse emerge.
"As long as beef does not decay the moral beliefs of society, then the culture wins because it benefits the music industry by drawing culturally impactful conversations. We are seeing a new generation of different lyricism, beat construction,” she said.
Indeed, 'musical wars' will continue to be a representation of competition, adding entertainment value to music and entertainment culture.