Khaligraph Jones is arguably the biggest hip-hop artist in Kenya, and definitely among the most celebrated in Africa.
Khaligraph Jones' real name is Brian Ouko Omollo. He was born on June 12, 1990 in Kayole in Kenya's capital Nairobi. He also spent some time growing up in Bondo, in Nyanza.
He is the 4th born in a family of seven children. Khaligraph has previously revealed that they lost one of their siblings, six of them are alive. He has four sisters and a brother.
His family background and childhood played a big part in shaping his artistry. According to the rapper, he fell in love with music at age 4. His older brother, Lamaz Span KOB, who is also a rapper influenced his younger brother to become an artist.
Wife and Children
Khaligraph is married to Georgina Muteti. They have a daughter together - Amali Jones Ouko. Khaligraph also has a son, Xolani Omollo with artist Cashy Karimi, his ex-girlfriend.
Khaligraph started by rapping to his brother's songs but soon began writing his own rhymes. He was known simply as Brayo. He recorded his first song while still in primary school student in Class 7 at Imara Primary School in Kayole in 2003. The song was recorded at a studio in Komarock - it was a Gospel rap song.
FUN FACT: Gospel artist Hopekid was a friend of Khaligraph's in Kayole and was with him when he recorded his first song while still in primary school in 2003. The two had even formed a group.
Khaligraph didn't quite feel the Gospel music as he grew. He started getting into underground hip-hop thanks to a radio show hosted by Mwafreeka. It inspired him to broaden musical horizons and as he got into the culture, he started freestyle rapping - a lane that would help him make a name in Nairobi's underground rap scene.
At the time, he was in form four in a secondary school in Komarock.
He started getting recognized after finding his way to Words and Pictures (WAPI) - a platform for freestyle rap and hip hop culture funded by British Council which used to offer upcoming artists a chance to perform and battle. He would regularly destroy other rappers in battles. Among those who were regulars at WAPI was Octopizzo - who later had a much publicized beef with Khaligraph.
Beef With Octopizzo
Octopizzo and Khaligraph first met in 2008, at freestyle and battle rap event WAPI. While they were both unknown nationally, Octopizzo was one of the hottest rappers in Nairobi's underground rap scene and Khaligraph was just gaining a buzz.
According to Khaligraph, they first met in a battle rap round where, despite the crowd expecting Octopizzo to win, Khaligraph crushed him with his fast, lyrical flows and disses sending the crowd crazy. Khaligraph believes this was the origin of their beef.
They have sent shots at each other in songs and interviews ever since (read on for more). Both grew to be some of the biggest rappers in the country.
Channel O Emcee Africa
Khaligraph would catch a big break when he took part in the Channel O Emcee Africa freestyle competition - a continental competition in 2009. He beat out other countless participants and impressed the judges who included Abbas Kubaff and other Kenyan legends. But he didn't even have a passport or ID which he needed to travel to South Africa if he won, so despite beating Pointblank Evumbi in the final it was Pointblank who went on to represent Kenya.
He recorded his first song as Khaligraph Jones in 2010 in a studio in Umoja. It was called Takeover. At this point, he had realized he had a special talent and was more determined than ever to make it as an artist.
He used the song as his demo as he tried to get more songs recorded. He recorded seven songs at various studios and released his first mixtape also known as The Takeover. He would sell the mixtape in CDs at Wapi.
Khaligraph was hungry and would record at least six more mixtapes in quick succession. He also shared his songs on Soundcloud and Reverbnation.
Some of the songs started getting played on an underground hip-hop show on Homeboyz Radio as he began buzzing. He began occasionally freestyling at Homeboyz Radio, Capital FM's Hits Not Homework and Ghetto Radio. However, he was still struggling to break into the mainstream - something he credits in part to not having the support of DJ Pinye at the time, who controlled NTV's music programming on The Beat and was also managing Khaligraph's rival Octopizzo. At the time, the Beat was the most influential music video discovery platform in Kenya before the explosion of youtube locally.
Homeboyz Radio Freestyle
Coola Gang Cypher
Khaligraph received the much-needed hype to thrust him into the limelight when he was featured on a cypher by Coola Gang. It was released soon after Camp Mulla and Octopizzo released a cypher of their own. On the Coola Gang cypher, Khaligraph sends shots at Camp Mulla and their '254flow' cypher and sound saying he keeps it one thousand.
Khaligraph's verse on the cypher went viral and he started attracting more media attention.
Mavichwa tu - featuring Oksyde
Khaligraph Jones and Oksyde collaborated on Mavichwa tu. It was Khaligraph's first music video. According to Khaligraph, DJ Pinye refused to play the video on The Beat, something Khaligraph was personally eyeing to elevate his career.
Noting that maybe the quality on his previous video with Oksyde was the problem, he recorded a new solo track Everyday and a relatively high quality video for it, hoping to get it played on The Beat. He was again rejected, something Khaligraph would call him out on years later.
His mother encouraged him to go on, telling him that when his time came no one would stop him.
The Best - featuring I.T
His next video, a 2012 collaboration with IT, garnered airplay on TV helping elevate his name.
We Be Happening with Kristoff
Around this time, Khaligraph connected with Kristoff on Facebook after stumbling upon his music. They started collaborating as Kristoff placed a hook and a verse on Khaligraph's unfinished We Be Happening song. It became a hit and saw Khaligraph gain real traction in the industry. This also the begining of the Khaligraph-Kristoff era as they would continue to collaborate on several more songs.
STL (Stella Mwangi) - Biashara Remix with Khaligraph and Kristoff
STL liked We Be Happening so much she asked Kristoff and Khaligraph to be on a remix for her hit Biashara. Biashara Remix was an even bigger hit and took Khaligraph to a new level.
Fly Away - Khaligraph Jones and Kristoff
We Be Happening Remix - All Stars
Vitu Unadu - Khaligraph Jones, Nonini, Beat ya Keggah and Kristoff
Khaligraph would focus more on his solo career as he and Kristoff drifted apart. Khali states that its because Kristoff was a more commercial, pop artist who had surpassed him with Dandia. He focused on his hip-hop lane and ended up racking more hits and becoming a superstar in his own right.
The 'Khaligraph Jones Presents' Cypher
Wanjiru and Akinyi
God is Gonna Open Doors (Ojuelegba Refix)
Khaligraph describes Yego as the song that changed his life as it massively blew up leading to major shows, media appearances and a whole new fanbase.
Ting Badi Malo - featuring Kantai
Khali Cartel 1
Mi Casa Su Casa
Nataka Iyo Doh
Rider - ft. Petra
Khali Cartel 1
Now You Know - featuring Rostam
Watajua Hawajui - featuring Msupa S
Testimony - featuring Sagini
Work - Donn J
Juu ya Ngori
Stick, Miti Freestyle
Coming Thru - Redsan
Khali Cartel 2
Gwala - featuring Ycee
Leave Me Alone (Wachana na Mimi)
Khali Cartel 3
Me Siogopi - featuring Lamaz Span K.O.B
Best Rapper in Nigeria (Black Bones Diss)
Yes Bana - ft. Bien
Roll With You
Hao - featuring Masauti
Lwanda Magere Legacy
G Like That
Luku - featuring The Industry
Nikwa ni Shoke
Get High (Do for Love)
Khali Cartel 4
Protect African Hip Hop (Lemon Pepper Freestyle)
Sifu Bwana - featuring Nyashinski
Hiroshima - featuring Dax
Maombi ya Mama - featuring Dax
Khaligraph Jones earns revenues from perfomances, streaming and endorsement deals. He owns his Blu Ink Studio and Record Label. He has endorsement deals with Monster Energy, and also partnered with OdiBets to spearhead the Odinare challenge - a multi-million shilling competition for rappers in Kenya to showcase and win big from their talents.
He owns two cars. Khaligraph owns a white Range Rover Discovery which he bought after his first Range Rover, a red one.
He previously drove a red Subaru forester and, before that, a green Subaru with a KAU registration plate.
He has also previously shared ongoing photos of ongoing construction of his house in Kenya.
Khaligraph Jones has released two studio albums.
- Testimony 1990 (2018)
- Invisible Currency (2022)
Soundcity MVP Award - Best Rapper in Africa
Khaligraph Jones was in 2020 crowned the Rapper of the Year in Africa at the Soundcity MVP Awards in Lagos, Nigeria. It sparked his beef with Nigeria's Blaq Bones who felt he deserved it. Khaligraph released the acclaimed diss track 'Best Rapper in Nigeria' in response.