Her atypical physique could have been an insurmountable obstacle. But the artist managed to break through and gather hundreds of thousands of followers on social networks.
One metre tall and a singular voice. Grand P, who suffers from progeria, a disease that causes premature aging, has an atypical profile. But “in humans, it’s not the size that counts, it’s the values“, he defends. On this day in July 2017, it is a determined Grand P, determined to promote himself, who pushes the doors of the Hadafo media group in Conakry.
Its founder and director, Lamine Guirassy, still remembers: “Few knew him, and, among those who knew who he was, few believed in him. But he came to me and said that he wanted to be a singer and that we should help him. It was then that the man who would become a phenomenon throughout West Africa a few years later made his first TV appearance on the programme L’Autre Journal.
His look, straight out of American rap videos, was surprising. Wearing a large black tracksuit jacket, sunglasses raised on his head and a big chain around his neck, he does not hesitate to show his bling-bling side. Moussa Kaba, his real name, is not bothered by his – often – difficult elocution nor by his very particular physique.
The buzz of the CAN
“Everyone talks about Grand P, it’s high time I found a producer,” he says. Grateful to those who gave him his chance, Grand P pays tribute to the Guinean artist Kerfalla Kanté, “the first” to have given him the microphone on the stage of the Palais du peuple in Conakry.
Accompanied by a small team, the performer first took advantage of his new fame on social networks. In 2019, his career took a turn with the African Cup of Nations (CAN) organised that year in Egypt. A video in which he freestyles in support of the Guinean footballer Naby Keïta, who plays for Liverpool, creates a buzz and has more than 100 000 views.
“After the video, we thought about how to capitalise on this audience. That’s how we came up with the idea of recording a song for the national team,” says one of his friends. The Grand P phenomenon was born and the singer became the mascot of the national team during the CAN. Seduced, the businessman and second vice-governor of the Central Bank of Guinea, Baidy Aribot, financed his trip to Cairo to meet the players, with whom the star willingly danced.
Tiken Jah Fakoly and Emmanuel Adebayor
Today, the artist has an album to his credit, guest appearances in numerous video clips by well-known singers in the sub-region, such as the Ivorian Serge Beynaud, studio recordings with Tiken Jah Fakoly – for his second album, which is due to be released soon -, and his proximity to famous African footballers such as the Togolese Emmanuel Adebayor. Born with a disability, in a disadvantaged environment, his extraordinary destiny defies all predictions.
The youngest of four children, Moussa Kaba was born in Sanguiana, in the Kankan region. Later, his family moved to Conakry. At a very young age, he was nicknamed “Grand P” in reference to his grandfather, whose namesake he is. He was in third grade when the mockery of his face, which was already beginning to age, became more severe. Grand P preferred to stay at home or to hang out in the neighbourhood and became passionate about music. “I decided to be an artist because it’s my life, it’s what I know,” he confides, gesturing.
While he is happy to talk about his career as an artist, the singer remains vague about his family situation. And if there’s one question that annoys him, it’s his age. To this day, no one is able to determine this. Some suggest that he is just over thirty, which seems unlikely given his illness. He and his teams prefer to keep it a mystery.
Turning his physique into a strength
For Lamine Guirassy, the Grand P phenomenon is first and foremost a “curiosity“. He is a rare character who raises a lot of questions among people, he explains. In a country like Guinea, where there is a lot of judgment about difference, some people would have preferred to remain anonymous and keep silent. Grand P decided to take advantage of his physical disability.
Aware of his good fortune, he has created the Grand P Humanitarian Foundation, which helps underprivileged people with disabilities. Currently, the singer is building an orphanage in the town of Forécariah – 80 km from Conakry – on a piece of land that a politician gave him.
In addition to the buzz he generates on the internet, Grand P‘s success is ensured by the many patrons who surround him. Among them, he can count on the businessman Baidy Aribot, whom he considers his “godfather”, but also Antonio Souaré – one of the country’s great fortunes – president of the Guinean football federation and owner of the betting company Guinea Games. These various supporters finance his projects as well as his numerous trips.
For a little over a year, public interest in him has also been driven by his romance with Ivorian singer and influencer Eudoxie Yao. The two regularly see each other in Abidjan, Conakry and Bamako and do not hesitate to showcase their relationship on social networks. A story that seems to be taken from a novel – she is as round as he is skinny – and whose ups and downs fascinate two million followers on Instagram. But Big P assures it: he is sincere. He also promises a “big wedding” in Conakry when the health restrictions are lifted.