A Passionate Performer
Opeyemi Gbenga Kayode (born 16 April 1988), popularly known with his stage name, Pepenazi is a Nigeria-based songwriter, recording artiste and performer. He is currently signed to Ecleftic Entertainment. He made his debut into the Nigerian Music Industry in 2012 when he dropped his single titled Arose produced by Bam Tunes. Arose's video had established acts in the Nigerian music scene make cameo appearances including Vector, Ice Prince, W4. He however took a break from the industry to complete his undergraduate education and serve his father land. On his return to the Nigerian music scene in October 2014, he dropped two singles, "Born You" and "Low" simultaneously. The songs gained air play, but Pepenazi came into broader limelight after dropping his Olamide featured pop-centric single titled "Illegal". The second half of year 2015 was Pepenazi's breakthrough period such that in recognition of his fast rise to prominence, he was nominated as Rookie of the Year at the 2015 Headies' Flip the Script Award.
Early Life and Education
Pepenazi was born in Lagos, Nigeria. He grew up listening to songs of music greats including Ebenezer Obey, Sunny Ade, The Beattle, IK Dairo, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, as they were his father's favorite. He had his primary education at Kemeesther Nursery and Primary School, Aguda Surulere, Lagos and his secondary school education at Mayflower School, Ikenne, Ogun State; where his love for Rap emerged, as he loved listening to the likes of Wyclef, Notorious B.I.G, P Diddy, Fat Joe, among others. He went further to earn for himself a Bachelor of Technology's degree in Estate Management from the prestigious Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State. He recorded his first single as an undergraduate student of the school. He contested in an election of the Student Union Government of the school and emerged the winner of the polls to become the Union's Director of Socials. Under his auspices as the DO Socials, he alongside other performing acts in the institution made a musical album titled Futa's Finnest.
2012 - 2014
Pepenazi's first professional venture into the Nigerian Music Industry was in 2012, when he dropped his rap single titled "Arose". Produced by Bam Tunes, this was followed up by a video. But as a final year student, who needed more commitment to his academics, Pepenazi proceeded on a break off the entertainment scene and could not immediately consolidate on the credits his first entrance accorded him. The break had to be extended because of the compulsory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) program he had to undertake. Music could not be taken away from him as he competed in and won the 2013 Airtel NYSC Lagos Camp Freestyle Competitionafter he thrilled his colleagues. Despite the break, Pepenazi still featured on two consecutive albums of Popular Nigerian Entertainment act, Olamide namely Baddest Guy Ever Liveth and Street OT. He was featured on track 11 titled "Motivation" (with Olamide, Ice Prince and Endia) and track 20 titled "Usain Bolt P" (with Olamide, Lil Kesh and Chinko Ekun) of the two albums respectively. In the month of October, year 2014, Pepenazi staged a comeback, dropping two singles, "Born you" and "Low" simultaneously. They enjoyed air play on some radio stations, especially in Lagos.
2015 - 2016
The year 2015 professionally kicked off for Pepenazi when on 8 February, he released a hardcore rap single titled "Adam" featuring Olamide. On 22 May 2015, Pepenazi dropped an alternative single titled "Fifemayo," where he played around with words describing the joy of parenthood on soft instrumentals produced by Tmode beatz He followed the audio up with a video barely after a week. Pepenazi made news headlines when he shot the video to his single, Low which features quite a number of big acts including; Iyanya, Sound Sultan, Lil Kesh, Samklef, DJ Spinall, Viktoh, etc., making cameo appearances. He then featured Olamide on a pop-centric single which will eventually be his major hit, titled "Illegal". His incessant featuring of Olamide on songs gave rise to speculation in some quarters that he was signed on to YBNL Nation but this was quickly played down by Pepenazi when in an interview with Green News confirmed that his original record label, Ecleftic Entertainment only has an affiliation with YBNL Nation and that he wasn't signed on the label. "Illegal" is such a success that, 10 months after its release, Tope, an editor with tooxclusive.com ranks it as one of the top 5 dance stimulating Nigerian songs. Jim Donnett, another editor with tooxclusive.com in his article, "Pepenazi – An “Illegal” Dream Come True", posits that Pepenazi is one of the most profiled fast-rising artistes.
On 30 August 2015, he performed at the Ibadan edition of the one of Nigeria's largest outdoor concert, Star Trek and he made a stunning performance that made headlines. Pepenazi was nominated in the Rookie of the Year category at the 2015 Headies Awards and that rounded up a successful musical year for him. Pepenazi was nominated and won both Most Promising Artist of the year at the 2015 Scream Awards and Revelation/Industry's Cynosure of the year at the 2015 MoreKlue All Youths Awards (MAYA). 2016 began for Pepenazi when he dropped the single titled "One For The Road", produced by Pheelz. He followed the audio with a video and the released another dance-hall single titled "Iwo Na (Your wishes)" featuring YBNL Nation act Lil Kesh.
In addition to his solo works, Pepenazi has collaborated with many artistes and was featured on hits including; "Gone are the Days" (with DJ Exclusive and Olamide), "Obi Remix" (with Skales and Reminisce), "Motivation" (with Olamide, Ice Prince and Endia), "In Da Mix" (with DJ Snoop), "Dishanku" (with Slay Velli), "Eran" (with Pjay and Indomix), "Usain Bolt P" (with Olamide, Lil Kesh and Chinko Ekun) and "Designer Remix" (with Tipsy Araga, Xino and Chinko Ekun). He has worked with A-list producers including Pheelz, Dapiano, Young John, T Mode, Drey Beatz, Oga Jojo, Htee, among others.
The year began for Pepenazi with a trip to South Africa, where he performed at some of the biggest South African clubs, including Harem and Moloko. On his return, Pepenazi dropped video to his "I Ain't Gat No Time (Male Remix)" which features Reminisce and Falz and then the "IAGNT" female remix which features Lucy Q, Phlow and Mz Kiss. On 15 May, Pepenazi released the Audio to his record, titled, "Ase", which features Tiwa Savage and ace Music producer, Masterkraft. This was followed up with a video which was released simultaneously with the launch of his website on 5 June 2017. On 2 August 2017, Pepenazi dropped another AfroDanceHall single titled, "Jabo".