Thursday, March 13, 2008


By Isaac Mahlangu

Rapper Jabulani Tsambo better known as HHP just had a fabulous 2007. His album YBA2NW sold gold, he got nominated for the MTV Europe Award and also won Strictly Come Dancing competition. He has started 2008 with a bang after winning the Star of Mzansi award. Encore caught up with him to discuss SeTswana rap, his latest offering Acceptance Speech and his star that is forever on the rise....

Q: You had a great year in 2007, with multiple award nominations including the MTV Europe nomination and you also won Strictly Come Dancing, how did that make you feel and do you regard it as the best year of your career?

A: 2007 was indeed a great year for me. I wouldn’t say it was my best year...rather I'd say it was one of my greatest years in the music biz. From a productive point of view, yes, it was my greatest year yet.

Q: You kick started your career with your high school buddies, calling yourselves Verbal Assassins, what happened to the group? Were you just teens who were merely just experimenting?

A: The group dissolved after we finished matric in '98. It wasn’t something that we thought would go on forever. We all had dreams of doing it for ourselves on the solo tip. Tebogo joined his brother, the late Iggy Smalls, to form the group Twistyle. Colin went on to join a band which later became Kwani Experience (although he didnt hang around for their first release) and Joseph carried on with his studies to become a corporate brother.

Q: Some people argue that you are now becoming more of a kwaito artist, what would be your response to that?

A: They clearly haven't heard my latest album Acceptance Speech...

Q: What is different about Acceptance Speech?

A: Its more me than what sells. Usually when you put together an album, you think about the sales and whether it will have commercial appeal. YBA2NW and this current album are the two albums where I just did my thing. And the positive response is really humbling.

Q: What would you say was the most embarrassing moment of your career?

A: At the Miss Universe pageant hosted by Jerry Springer I got asked to do a collabo with Lebo Mathosa on stage. Rehearsals went great and everything...until we went live on air. I walked out and went blank. I had forgotten all my lyrics that I was planning to use that night. I remember just mumbling something on the mic for those few minutes and walking off stage thinking "What the hell did I just do?!" I went straight to my room that day and only came out the next morning.

Q: You are one of the members of Motswako, what is really is Motswako?
A: I can say that I put Motswako on the map. But, the actual movement of Motswako was started by Stoan of Bongo Maffin back in the day. I think it was the year 1995/96. Motswako is the melting pot of creativity, style, music and art. Wyclef for instance has Reggae/Rock/Hip Hop and R&B influences all jumbled together in his music. Not that sometimes he does Reggae/Rock/ Hip Hop or R&B. He does them all at once. That my friend, is Motswako. I mix kwaito/hip hop/jazz/gospel and funk in my music. Others use different genres all together.

Q: Was it not difficult to convince record label executives to believe in SeTswana rap music?

A: Well, at the time when I joined, Zulu was the most common language of command in the music industry and I did receive a lot of pressure to try change the language I rap in. But, because I was/am so good, they tolerated it until the rest of the country did.

Q: I understand you are now getting into acting, how did that come about?

A: I was the chairman of my High School's drama club in 1998. My passion for acting started in theatre. After High School I studied film at Allemby and later finished at the Wits University. It was at wits that I did my first "acting" job on camera. It was for a movie called Hladini shot for international release only. I was the lead supporting actor and I played a ruthless rebel leader of Liberia called Prince Johnson. My next gig was for City Sesla the sitcom which I quite enjoyed. Now, Ive been asked to take part in the fast growing soap Rhythm City. Although Its unlike all my other acting jobs. This time I play myself.

Q: Do you believe in street cred and how do you define street cred?

A: Street Cred is all about staying relevant to the masses (the people who buy your music). Street Cred is partly the reason why I am where I am today.

Q: Who do you think is SA's most under-rated rapper?

A: Well, I have two in my opinion. Mzambiya( Yes, Mzambiya the kwaito guy) and the latest Hip Hop release F-EEZY. I had the privilage of hearing these two guys rap nine-nine and I was blown away.

Q: Would you engage in rap battles?

A: No. Rap battles are a platform to sharpen your skill for the mainstream rap industry. I've passed that stage.

Q: You released an album Omang but a year later Omang Reloaded was also released, what was that about?

A: After I released Omang, I recorded Harambe. The song that I now regard as my biggest offering ever. I also recorded Tswaka which also became my biggest 'street' song. Now, I had two choices. Either I wait 18months to release those songs or I just do it. I JUST DID IT. Im planning to reload another one of my albums in the future. Look out.

Q: What do you think is your best song ever and why?

A: Well that song for me or the best song for the people? I would say (judging from my shows), the best song I've ever done is Harambe. The best song I've ever done for mewould have to be the track from my latest album Acceptance Speech called Wayza. The reason why I rate both these songs as the best, is because they are purely original. No sample or influence what so ever.

Q: You have a huge following in the country, how do you handle groupies?

A: I handle them a day at a time.

Q: What are the challenges facing Mzansi hip hop?

A: Knowing the business behind the music. All we know is how to rap. Now, we need to know how to make a living from that.


jermaine said...

Thanx for the good look Isaac! Keep it up bro. Yo hipHOPP! Da's hy! for hitting us with your definition of street-cred and above all your idea of Mzansi Hip Hop. It is what it is, I agree. I must also add that I like your honest and open approach to the topic of your achievements. You R a general! HaHa!!-I found it funny how you handle groupies!! That's funny yo!!! All the best with this year that lies ahead!

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