Singer, songwriter, rapper, vocalist, Cali P (born Pierre Nanon) began his life in music playing drums at age three. Born into a musical family, his father founded the cultural drum ensemble Akiyo from Guadeloupe. Cali P would divide his time between Guadeloupe and Switzerland growing up, and his father would bring him along on band activities as part of a cultural and cultural movements on the Caribbean island.
Before he began recording songs as Cali P, the artist began performing as an MC in the Jamaican Dancehall style with the Switzerland based soundsystem crew Gideon Soldiers in the early 2000’s. He would begin voicing his trademark ‘singjay’ style during this period as he explains, “I started singing songs as we selected with vinyl 7 inches, I would turn over the 7 inch and play the riddim on the B side and this brought me into the studio setting.”
Cali P’s journey in reggae dancehall culture, performing live and Rastafari was cultivated with Gideon Soldiers as he explains it “was a whole crew, we had the soundsystem, we had the magazine called Armagideon Times we were organizing shows and sound systems. At that time I learned how to organize our own parties, I was living in a house with the crew. I was 15 and I went to live with them in the countryside. It was 6 or 7 of us and we grew food there, we eat together we had the magazine, organizing our parties our shows, taking bookings with the Soundsystem shows.”
The son of a Rastafarian, Cali P recalls, “Growing up as a Rasta, I never grew up as like 'Oh I’m a Rasta’, we just grow up like that, we just have the vibration inna di yard, a sense of spirituality of course, but also like a lot of knowledge sharing and reasoning within the house, within the family, my father is a very proud African, and really always telling me to focus on Africa and check out everything whether it is art, music, painting, the jewelry everything so its like something that I just grew up with. I realized in my teens that I really wanted to know more, and just started to study for myself, started to read more bible, read more books, reason with more people, go to Nyabinghi and I found that this is my strength that was always there with me since I was lickle.”
As for the recordings he made as part of the Inspired Music camp, Cali P explains that he was always in the studio during this period doing dub plates and recording, and one day he made a freestyle dubplate recording for an extreme ski sport crew. This dubplate was the beginning of an alliance with professional skier, Tanner Hall. Tanner Hall loved the dubplate and put it in his first extreme skiing action sports film entitled “W SKI 106”. Cali P was invited to the premiere of the action sports film in Park City, Utah coming to the first time. Tanner Hall being one of the top skiers at the time had a lot of his fanbase gravitating to the same music that he was into and this led to Cali P & Tanner Hall along with Eric Iberg to form Inspired Music/Inspired Media. This label would be the home for many Cali P productions. The song “Like A Lion - Hotsteppa” would reach the number one position on numerous European iTunes and other charts during that period.
While building his brand within the extreme sports industry, Cali P performed in several ski towns globally during the season eventually headlining in the United States at the prestigious extreme winter sports competition, the X-Games. In previous years the headliner slot has been filled by artists such as 50 Cent and Damian Marley.
The Inspired team soon decided to build a base in Jamaica and Cali P lived in Kingston for six years. During this period he based himself at the late acclaimed producer Bobby Digital’s studio for over a year and soon began performing on many of Jamaica’s reggae events island-wide. As Cali P recalls “For me personally, one of my proudest moments is that I was able to play several times at Rebel Salute in Jamaica, because that is the show that maybe when I didn’t even think about a singing career in that sense I was definitely already watching Rebel Salute and enjoying and loving it, and to grow within the music for me personally, to grow like coming from another place, like Jamaica to grow to the moment like I am there, and that stage, that for me was really a big step, meaning that they love it and they become family. It’s something I will never forget. I’m always ready to go to Rebel Salute, cause that is the Rastaman show for me that is like, that is my ground.”
Since that time, the artist has maintained a strong presence including performances at three of Europe and the world’s biggest reggae festivals SUMMERJAM, ROTOTOM and REGGAJAM with prime time slot positioning on each festival schedule.
Working with musicians to shape his sound in the live setting, Cali P is a natural band leader, and he bases this on a key element of his musicianship: “I am very much into sound, the groove, how things sound, I am very much into the music, how people play music, because that is because I am a fan of reggae and dancehall music, live music in general, I was always watching the stage shows, Rebel Salute, Sting, all kinds of shows, I would buy video cassettes, and that really teach me a lot that made it possible for me to work with a band in Europe and teach them, and give them some groove and show them how I want it to sound. Now when I moved to Jamaica, for me that went on another level all of a sudden there were a lot of musicians around and I had the experience of working with the Warrior Love band (Etana), we played at Rebel Salute several times and then we continued rehearsing together and we brought them to perform with me in Guadeloupe.”
As for musicians he may work with from outside of Jamaica at the present time, the artist explains “In Europe, I played with the Fireman Crew that I have played with a lot, they are based in Austria. I love how Fireman Crew works, they have their own sound engineer, they are good friends all together, they are always together they play music together, that really helps them as a band to have a good vibe, very on point as well in their communication, they move as a band.”
Cali P released his first single “Forward” in 2005 and his 2008 debut album LYRICAL FYA was released. He started working with the producer Riga and the Hemp Higher label in 2007 when the two met at the prestigious MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL where Cali P was performing.
Riga and Cali P would produce “Jah Rule the World” and as Cali P recalls, "I was just finishing off my first album LYRICAL FYA, for me it was the freshest thing cause for me it just have a lot of tune on it and it some pounding dancehall music, from there I started working with Hemp Higher. ‘Jah Rule the World ‘ became one of Tanner Hall’s favorite songs and we made a dub plate for the song for one of his movies, and so the whole ski world was really into that song.” For the Jah Rule the World music video, it would mark the first and only time it took over three years to shoot. Based on the use of a high quality Red Digital camera, they produced the video when this professional camera was available taking footage in Ibiza, in the Swiss mountains in various seasons. Cali P was one of reggae’s first artists to record videos using the Red Digital camera technology.
In 2011, Cali P released UNSTOPPABLE with Hemp Higher and it climbed to top ten positions on the iTunes charts in a number of territories including the USA and Canada.
In 2014 he released the HEALING OF THE NATION EP also with Hemp Higher. A subsequent tour launched in 2015 that included performances at REBEL SALUTE (Jamaica), SUMMERJAM (Germany), REGGAEJAM (Germany), FESTIVAL DE L'ETE (Canada), REEDS FESTIVAL (Switzerland) as well as performances in Costa Rica & Malta.
In 2016 Cali P released I-THOUGHTS that took him on a 26-city tour of Europe. The album features several tracks produced by Manudigital as well as the combination with Capleton “Dem Ago Burn Up” produced by Seani B & Don Chandler. The video for “Dem Ago Burn Up” has over 3 million views to date.
In 2017 Cali P appeared on GOA SUNSPLASH in India with Manudigital and performed sound system style both on the festival stage and impromptu “Fruit Market Session” on the streets of Goa.
In 2019 the Cali P EPS - VIZION I & II were released, produced and recorded with TEKA who is the producer on “Hit Like Gunshot” and whose Berlin-based label Low Low Records was founded to release the material that the two create together.
Cali P and TEKA collaborated on the July 2020 single, “Hit Like Gunshot” written while the artist is in quarantine in Gambia, West Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evocative lyrics flow from a river of emotions related to the murder of George Floyd in the US city of Minneapolis by the police and the anti-racism protest movement towards change worldwide. A soul-stirring Afrobeats groove b flavored with acoustic guitar lines drives a potent brew of timely poetry exclaiming systematic racism, focusing on the root cause of the upheaval: "Slavery abolished but nottin’ demolished the schooling system support the damage." and calls out the injustice saying "there’s been too much unjust ruling" asking "Where is the justice, for those who die?" The artist makes searing observations in the context of his comparable safety in Africa, versus America, building his home as the bridge with its melancholic refrain states: “It happened in May….” A music video for “Hit Like Gunshot” filmed in Gambia features images of protesters in support of Black Lives Matter worldwide carrying signs with messaging in solidarity. The names of many that have been victims of police brutality are listed as Cali P contemplates the global movement towards change from his perspective from his perspective in Gambia.
As for the origins of the song “Hit Like Gunshot”, Cali P explains vividly, “I was just here living the every day life and here in Gambia it was ending of Ramadan time and it is a very special time and all these things happened with George Floyd, right now is of course the age of phone when something goes viral it really goes viral, the thing is, the way the world saw this cruelty, for the whole world to react, Africans react like that every time they see news like that. They didn’t need this video for someone to get angry, this happened several times, every time it happens, so the world didn’t need this video for somebody to get angry. During this time I have different friends linking me from around the world, I am looking at it from the perspective of being in Africa. Always from ever since, we have to look at racism. We have to look at the root of humanity which is Africa, they are not treated right, and this is for me the very beginning that lays the foundation for every racist thing to grow to have the possibility because the root is: people disrespected. I think its something that has two sides, the side maybe of the racism in the world that is happening, the thing that we as people black people forget to look to Africa, they have a whole continent which is the richest continent in the world, coming from which they stem from which is something royal, a lot of people black people think that their story begins with slavery. If I would have been just listening to the history class in my school, I would be that same person who thinks that my history begins with slavery, when its really not and I see myself as having this mission of first of all making people in Africa feel strong and know that there is not that much to search for out there, other than building up our own self here, also talking to the Diaspora and focusing on building up despite all the racism that is happening in the world, we as people have to be stronger and build up ourself and know where we are from and then the fight against racism is a whole other thing but its for me kind of secondary because I am not trying to prove I am a human to someone, I am not trying to prove I am a good person I am trying to build my place and be strong.”
As for the anti-racism movement that is building worldwide, Cali P notes: “I am very active against racism and this time, when this happened it shook up the world so much that every single person has to look into themself and find that lickle spot in every one of us, there is sometimes things we say or think that if you check it its like hmmm this is very prejudiced. “
“Hit Like Gunshot” is the follow up to the Cali P March 2020 Afrobeats single with Stonebwoy & Seun Kuti “Rise Up & Shine” produced by TEKA .
As far as what the future holds for the rapper, songwriter, performing and recording artist, Cali P says, “We will continue building a strong musical bridge between Africa and the Caribbean and Europe. making timeless music."