It was 2003 at the North West University Freshers Ball in Mafikeng that I first saw HHP perform live. Motswako was the new thing and we were crazy about the genre. HHP, or Jabba, as he was popularly known, took to the stage shortly towards midnight and had the hundreds of revellers eating from the palm of his hand. I remember him taking off his T-shirt and waving it in the air.
All the revellers in the hall were on their feet, cheering and singing along. It was lit. The epic moment came when Jabba waded offstage and crowd surfed. I was scared for him and thought he would fall, but thankfully, he did not. Many years have gone by and I have seen HHP perform several times, Back To The City, Mascom Booster bash… and he always gave his all.
Celebrated for his artisitic creativity and ingenuity, HHP gave Motswako hip-hop form; a liberated poet and storyteller who was gifted with lyrical mastery. He was also not selfish and unearthed raw talent. If it was not for HHP I would not have discovered my Motswako king, Mo’ molemi; the rap on Manong is legendary.
We probably wouldn’t even know Cassper Nyovest, Khuli Chana and Towdee mac among others. He was confident in his talent and knew that there is space for everyone to shine. Jabba was among the lucky ones who identified his gift early in his life; all that talent wants is to be used. Jabba used his to entertain, unite and celebrate.
He was a lyrical beast and modern day cultural icon who fittingly ‘made Tswana fashionable’. He was poetic and refreshingly genius. He told genuine stories from the heart. HHP was also multi-faceted: he could be goofy and fun, and also serious and reflective.
While his music played and we saw him through media, Jabba went through a quiet spell. Years went by, and HHP did not perform here. In fact, he once ranted that he would never perform in Botswana again following an unsavoury incident. But this changed last year when relations were seemingly rekindled.
When events organiser and socialite Teshwar Miller invited me to the HHP gig I was beside myself with excitement. Trap does not come close to Motswako. Jabba had been missed, judging by the numbers who flocked Chez Nicholas to see him. After a long wait, at 0100 hrs, HHP jumped onto the stage dressed in all white.
The crowd went wild. He wasted no time as he perfomed most of his hits from Mafikeng, Wa mtseba motho oo, Tswaka, Harambe, Music and Lights and Lefatshe je, he gave fans their money’s worth, and in between, told the audience how great it felt to be ‘back home’. It was an epic show.
His last performance in Botswana was at the Yarona FM Music Awards in February. Today we sit and wonder: How would summer be without Jabba?True to purpose, in the song Born For This, he says that music is his gift, passion and he was born for the hustle and always kept it real. He fulfilled his purpose and when all is said and done, that is all that matters. Pretty much all that matters.