• Khaligraph Jones, son of a woman pastor, is a rebel with a cause — being the best disrupter.
• Unlike many rappers and musicians, he doesn't touch drugs or alcohol because he wants a sober mind to create and perform.
Brian Omollo's exudes confidence (many call it arrogance) but also passion and tattoos. He proudly calls himself a rebel and his cause is disrupting the status quo.
"I was dissing people and I'm an upcoming artiste. I didn't enter the industry as everyone did. I was different, vocal and that's how I made my name. I'm the best at what I do. I came in as a rebel. Because of my talent, they had to accept me. I made my own way. I never packaged myself to fit people's expectations. I was the OG when I started and I am the OG now."
He also says he's the most dissed personality in the industry but he doesn't take it personally.
What many people don't know is that the man today known as Khaligraph (he considers his tattoos caligraphy) Jones lives by his own strict code: striving for excellence and self-improvement.
"I came from nothing. And when I say I came from nothing, I really came from nothing," he tells the Star in an interview.
"We were chased out of the house because we didn't have money for rent. In 2012, when I was just starting out in my music career — he had a fling with gospel music starting in 2004 — life was so bad. We moved from Kayole to Dandora with my mum.
"After I joined high school, I dropped out for two years. I didn't even want o go back to school but I was convinced.
"I use my story as a testament and motivation to show that it doesn't matter what you are going through, it really doesn't, as long as you believe and don't wait for people to pity you. Go get it."
"Many people see me and make assumptions based on their impressions. Their first perception of Khaligraph is that I come from a well-off background. Like I'm a rich kid. But that's not the case.
"I was born and raised in Kayole, from preschool all the way to high school." That's where his schooling ended, not because he didn't want to advance but because of circumstances.
Khaligraph was enrolled into Brucewood High School, a private mixed day school in Kayole, Embakasi. Here, he got a taste of leadership and power.
"I have always been confident, even if I don't have it and I'm always proud of what I have. And because of my character, the headteacher appointed me as the head boy from Form 2 all the way to Form 4.
"I performed my duties to the letter. I'm a professional, I did not just become one as a musician. My work culture was inculcated from way back. When the headteacher gave me instructions, I made sure everything was completed to his satisfaction."
Without any higher education to help him, Khaligraph says he sharpened his skills and strategised by hanging out with the right people. He still does.
"You get to a certain level and you start getting exposed to different information, different people, prominent people with different world views. They start feeding you with information that sees you become successful.
Does he have a mentor?
"I don't have one, per say. I source for useful advice and insights from whoever. I can decide to have a sit down with you and talk about life, there are things you know that I don't. I love sitting down and listening to people. They feed me with good ideas on how to propel myself to a different level."
Asked about his dreams back in Kayole, Kaligraph says, "At that time we didn't have dreams. We just wanted to eat and buy good clothes.
"I didn't even have bus fare for gigs or money for food. Our dreams were, 'Man, what I would do to get a plate of chips and chicken'."
"Our dreams were very limited until time progressed and our perspectives broadened that is when we began to understand life.
"Right now, if you ask me what I'm dreaming of, I'll tell you, 'Five years from now, I want to have built a very successful empire. I want to have started initiatives in places like where I come from."
For a while, he was doing gospel, but in 2008 Khaligraph Jones launched his career as a rapper.
"I wanted to create my own path and I felt everyone was doing gospel. I wasn't comfortable and I didn't want to lead a life that I am not living. I didn't want to preach water and drink wine."
He's a teetotaller because clarity is essential to his creativity and performance, he says.
Did your parents believe you'd become a top entertainer?
"They did. Back then, we did not have rappers who had set a good example. We had to build this thing [rap] from the rubble. So there was no one I would show my mom and tell her, 'I want to be like that guy'. Right now things have changed, kids can now say, 'I want to be like Khaligraph or King Kaka'."
Back then artistes were just there, famous with nothing to show for it financially. Now it's different.
Kaligraph says his mother loves his music. Today it's just Khaligraph and his mom — his father and brother died.
"She is a staunch Christian, loves the Lord and is in the ministry. She's a pastor. She loves my music but she loves the songs where I'm singing, not rapping. She loves my single Kasayole. Anytime, I'm singing she gets fascinated. She's a fan.
Kenyan Artists Timmy Tdat X Khaligraph Jones Performing 'Kasayole' Produced By Magix Enga Directed By Enos Olik.
When you record over 2,000 songs, believe me, you have talked about everything and anything. I have sung songs even about eating mandazi and drinking Fanta. If definitely sun songs about my mom.
I have started appreciating my mother a lot. Now more so because I have settled down and I have a family. After I saw the mother (Georgina Muteti) of my daughter(seven-month-old Amina Jonese Ouko) and the amount of work it takes to be a parent ...
When did his mother know he was going to be famous?
"In my song, Ruby, when I say, 'People like Pinye are not coaxed to do anything!', that's a lyric I got from my mum. She told me that after I came home dejected, sad and angry that he refused to play my music on his TV show. I was so stressed. We were living in Dandora, we had nothing. My mother would encourage me. "God is the one who publishes people, not DJ Pinye. God will publish your music when the time comes."
And that's what happened. I didn't become famous overnight. Now, it has gotten to a point where my mum is always called and asked for favours by people who think I'm super-rich.
And the tattoos?
"The neck tattoo (his name Omollo) was very painful. Actually, I never had liked tattoos, I was against it. I believed that it was the mark of the beast. And if the rapture happens, all the people with tattoos will be left behind. "I officially got into the stage as Khaligraph Jones in 2008 at a function called (WAP) Words And Pictures. That's where I launched my career as a rapper and I was no longer doing gospel music. I wanted to create my own path. At the time I felt like everyone was doing gospel music. I wasn't comfortable and I didn't want to lead a life that I am not living. I didn't want to preach water and drink wine." don't even know how I came to that decision.
"My first tattoo was a sleave. After the first one, I got another sleeve. They are very painful. I kept adding more until I went all out."
Does his mother approve?
"No. She was against them. In fact, when I had the tattoos for a whole year, she didn't know. I would visit her wearing a turtleneck on and long-sleeved coats. She says I spoiled my skin."
Does he go to his mom's church?
"No, I don't. Right now, she is hosted in other people's churches, until she establishes her own. Every once in a while I pay my tithe.
Walking into his studio in posh Kilimani, you enter a hallway filled with fan art and gifts.
One wall is a glass cabinet filled with the world's finest whiskey, cognac, wine and champagne. All unopened.
"They were given to us after performances. Since I don't drink and none of my staff does either, we just put them in the cabinet as mementoes. When they become too many, I give them to people. "
Not drinking or taking drugs has contributed to his success. "I am able to keep a sober state of mind when I'm doing my thing."
I did what everybody thought would be impossible. First, I started a revolution and it was successful. They started playing Kenyan music and artistes can live off Kenyan music.