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General Pype's Hype

By | March 9th 2012

It is hard to mention a Naija star and humility in the same sentence. They come big, flossy, fussy and as glamorous as they can ape their western counterparts. But not so for General Pype, writes KEYA KINUTHIA

He exudes the confidence of raw talent and is as humble as any other remarkable reggae artiste. The moment Nigeria’s Channel O Best Reggae/Ragga 2010 winner walked into our offices, he was jovial and in good spirits, like a man on mission. He cracked jokes and felt at home.

Although his name, General Pype, is not common with Kenya’s showbiz followers, his music is not only refreshing but chart-busting.General Pype’s mission was to shoot a video of his new single, a collaboration with Kenya’s hot siren, Kelma.

His love for Kenya is well manifested in the way he talks. "This is my fourth time here," he says. "I have even recorded a collabo with Sauti Sol," explains Pype who is credited with over 140 collaborations.

General Pype collaborated with Sauti Sol when he was here to perform during the Mama Awards two years ago. During the performance he premiered his new track then, Teaser, to an enthusiastic crowd.

General Pype [Photo: Standard]

"Kenyans love me, and I adore them!" he enthuses. "In fact, I am more of a Kenyan.They even greet me in sheng with mambo vipi? And I respond mambo poa or Mambo freshi ."

He says his vocal prowess is doubly owed to one Mike Ohiri who pushed him to train his voice to accomplish the rigours of being an acappella singer. Pype then sang bass for the band. He recalls orchestrating a complete George Handel’s Messiah in all three parts at a tender age.

In 2005, he met his manager Ayo Rotimi aka Pupa and they struck a rapport instantly. It is Pupa, he says, who christened him Pype due to his versatility in music.

Musical discourse

To cement his rare abilities with some hype and credibility, he went into recording and released a single, Keep it Cool in 2007. The song went international after it was featured on Season Six of American TV series, The Shield.

"It’s like I became an overnight celeb yet I had been around for long," he quips, laughing.

Requests for collaborations poured in from Sunny Neji (Crush) to hip-hop diva Sasha (Strong Thin), Sauti Sol (Mara Hio) and Sheyman (Showa remix).

It was not long before industry critics took note of his exceptional qualities. First came the Channel O music video gong for Best Dancehall/ Ragga video; 2010, which was followed by a Nigerian Music Awards nod for song of the year, 2010.

He has so far gone on to win a City People Entertainment award for Most Inspiring Song of the Year and Best Reggae/ Dancehall tune of the Year.

The last born of the sons in a family of seven boys and one girl, Majekodunmi Olayiwola Ibrahim aka General Pype was born in the Ogun State and raised in Lagos. He joined a church choir in 1998 while still in school. Pype later became part of an acappella group, Triumphant Chorale Voices. He made the switch to reggae/ragga in 2005.

His producer christened him Pype — Prolific Youth Positive Entertainer — and set the ball rolling with his first single.

He rhymes freedom and equality while waxing lyrical of harsh street reality coupled with creative entries of playful African rhythms and sounds. Although he has amassed 140 collabos to his deck he still remebers his first album — chances of it doing well. Coy at most Pype embodies fluency in message delivery and catchy beats.

True champion

You would be shocked when he says he listens to classical music, and grew up admiring Frank Sinatra and copying the likes of Barry White and Beethoven — artistes he sampled extensively during his Acappella days! For a reggae artiste, his taste is as varied as his style of lyric-play.

While his music can be termed reggae fusion with hip-hop and pop elements, he prefers terming it ‘world music’, a term most musicians now use to describe their music of varied difference and indifferences.

His vocals are strongly aligned with the emotions and the strength with which he delivers his music.

For a man who credits Sizzla and Beenie Man as insipration, it was not for nothing that he was chosen to perform during MAMA awards and got thumbs up from Wyclef Jean for his performance of the song Teaser.

He cites Champion as his biggest song. "It is a song that is about you, and me. It represents each of us," he says. "It is a song that encourages us to go after our goals and dreams, no matter the hurdles," he adds.

To show how much the song meant to him, he had the video shot in Obalende-Lagos where he was raised. The famed Bobby Boulders, whose portfolio includes the who-is-who in the Naija and Kwaito Music scenes, directed the video.

His song is a staple of Supersport’s promos and when asked how much he received from the Pay-TV for use of the anthem, he is coy about it. "I received what was worth the song, and I am happy about it," he says.

He admits that royalties from the song enabled him establish himself and to record further content. He adds that what he received from the producers of the show, The Shield was of higher value than that. "Music is keeping me a float and I must say, I appreciate it," he says.

On his private life; he offers what he calls ‘Pype-snippets’ saying that he is dating a Naija girl. Pype refutes the rumours that he is dating Kelma. "She is a very close friend with whom we collaborate artistically, you can call it an artistic relationship. I know her boyfriend and I’m happy with the girl I’m seeing," he explains.

Currently refining his first album for release, he says he is under no pressure to release an album and will only release it once certified the quality is ‘Pype-Quality’. How else do you define a perfectionist!

"I do not want to give myself five years and say, I want to have ten albums by then. No. I want to perfect my art and give my fans the very best, while leaving no room for critics and haters to hate on it," he says of his journey ahead.

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