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Premiere: Cork hip-hop artist Olympio interrogates history in stunning video for hymnal song ‘EPG’

Premiere: Cork hip-hop artist Olympio interrogates history in stunning video for hymnal song ‘EPG’

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The Cork rap artist Olympio is marking European Black History Month with the release of a hymnal hip-hop song called ‘EPG’ which stands for ‘Exploitation, Power, Greed’ that is accompanied by a beautifully realised video by Andrea Williams & João Perdigao, underscoring the song’s themes.

Olympio grew up in Ireland and became aware of his Togolese heritage after a visit there. After learning exclusively about slavery and colonisation, visiting Togo illuminated the beauty and nuance of his ancestry and identity, and subsequently learned of a rich history previously unknown to him.

‘EPG’ is a song which addresses that history and frames it in a modern context, through Cork-lilted rap and a music video that shows that richness of culture through its stamps of creativity.

Watch the excellent video here:

Of the song, Olympio says:

“EPG is a critical reflection of history, as it amalgamates with the current challenges we face as individuals but also as a society. The chant ‘Exploitation, Power, Greed, I can’t breathe’, captures the pain of the struggles that are not standing still but moving and constantly evolving. The song is one to invoke hope, not pity, it is a call to mobilise and see the powers that move the pieces. The enemy is not each other, the enemy is ignorance, the machine of systemic injustices and a history left behind and unacknowledged.“

Olympio
Photo of Olympio – João Perdigao

And of the video, a deeper explanation is offered by the artist:

“In looking at the past, the warriors depicted in the video highlight the strengths of women that are often invincible in revolutions. EGP does not exist as one entity, the reference to the biblical story of Samson and Delilah highlight this form. The three EPG characters (depicted as three masked people with black suits) move between the past and the present, what exists as invisible forces in our society are now given faces and can be held accountable. 

The triad that is EPG, is a force that has distorted and manipulated the truth,
invaded  human lives, eroded human rights, natural resources, and so much more. They have not only colonised nations but also history, creating narratives that invoke violence, acts of segregation that continue to persist. “I believed that there was no more to me and my history than slavery and colonisation.

In this world, we do not have a poverty issue, we have a problem with wealth
distribution. We do not have a hunger issue, we have a problem with accessibility, we don’t need to look too far back in our history to see the tragedies of the famine, the exodus of the young people, friends, and families separated. 

Raphael believes that everyone can connect to these three words when it comes to a difficulty they are going through in their life – migrant or not. Many of his friends discuss their heritage and how they came to be the way they are. On a larger scale, people of colour and those from minority origins face a lot of prejudice and racism in the west today because of the colour of their skin, their identity, the cultures they practice, or the beliefs they hold. Their past is even exploited against them. In a sense, I’m calling it out. “

Biography

Raphael Olympio, known professionally as Olympio, is an Irish rapper, spoken word artist, singer and songwriter. Olympio is a proud Cork native with Togolese heritage. He first encountered music in church, where he developed a taste for live gospel music and also began writing poetry and fictional stories whilst in direct provision. In his early teenage years, he started composing songs, poems, and spoken word as he found it easier to speak up about the struggles of his life through music. On television, Olympio looked up to singers, actors, comedians, and just generally good entertainers who looked like him. Unfortunately, the media did not view people of colour in a positive light unless they were “entertainers”. As a result, these were his only role models when he was younger. Influenced by artists such as 2Pac, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Kanye, Lecrae and Kid Cudi, Olympio aspired to be just like them. His communicative style has so far contributed to a number of collaborations and performances at Indiependence, Electric Picnic, Other Voices and more. 

Live Dates

October 23rd – Trash Culture Revue, The Kino, Cork

Social Links:


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Olympio – EPG – Lyrics

Verse 1

We Pop smoke, incomplete combustion

One milli on this song for auction 

Ten milli if it makes the album 

Stay woke, just to make a difference

Up all night as we pray to God 

To make nocturnal rhythms 

Turntables combat the system 

Can’t knock the hustle

Hot sauce, Abraham’s descendants

Life lessons, let’s educate them  

Stand in formation

Stand in formation

Preacher man to the congregation 

They take but never give 

That’s lust

Black youth in the midst

and I’m lost 

Oh Yeshua?!

Is this why you died?

Cause being black comes with a cost 

The inflation got us rubbing our thoughts 

Go back to your where from 

A defence mechanism of the unknown 

You only fear what you do not know 

And If I go

Then give me back all the food and your camera phone 

The clothes and medicine, I’m talking everything that’s African grown

Give me back all of my spice, give me back all the rice, 

give me back all my culture, your culture jacking, exploiting my rights 

Blind the world with our poverty, why hide our beautiful sites

Give us back all our artefacts, 

Our four fathers are screaming 

-Screaming!

Give us back our life 

Chorus 

Exploitation, Power, Greed 

I can’t breath

I can’t breath (x3)

Verse 2

Our narrative is getting distorted 

Speak the truth and they’ll make sure that you’re getting aborted 

Deported, wiped of the planet, intimidated and incarcerated 

Tired of being discriminated, tired of speaking up 

Tired of being alienated, tired of waking up

Tired of being affiliated with stereotypes that infiltrate your every come up,

Come up, come up 

Bridge

I’m just trying to get the sun up

Sun up, sun up 

I’m the son of a king

King Musa, 

Yeah I’m just trying to get the sun up 

Chorus 

Exploitation, power, greed 

I can’t breath 

I can’t breath (x3)

Bridge 2

Royalty in my DNA

Power took everything from my DNA

Got them shook 

I’m speaking up 

With everything in my DNA, DNA, DNA  (x2)

Chorus 

Exploitation, Power, Greed 

I can’t breath 

I can’t breath (x3)