Born Jackson Ekene Mba, Hbee when he began music foresaw his future as a certified hit maker and decided to go with the moniker Hbee, which is a short way of saying “Hit Boy”. He eventually grew to embrace the name more, especially after coming to understand the importance of a unique, easy-to-remember-easy-to-pronounce-name in the industry, and for a brand.
Hbee’s wander into the music world wasn’t one of chance. It was predestined, in some sort of way. Growing up in a family where his father is an ardent music lover, that was a precursor and pointer to the path of young Jackson.
‘Every music I listened to were directly influenced by my dad – Brenda Fassie, Lucky Dube, Bob Marley, Majek Fashek – these were my dad’s heroes, and the wakeup voices to my day. So at a very young age I just discovered that these are the people I want to be like; this is what I want to do! I had the love and passion for it, so it wasn’t a tough choice taking it as a career path, and ever since, I haven’t looked back’, He says.
Like the legends he grew up listening to, Hbee knows for sure that music goes beyond just the singing. There is a need for artistes to relate their songs to everyday life, and create some form of value to their listeners in order to keep being relevant. For Hbee, his music is about making his listeners happy, and keeping them so.
‘Basically, the essence of the type of music I do is to spread love. You know, music is meant to pass across a message to people, it is meant to fill their hearts with love, joy, happiness – music is life for me, so I want my message to carry along a good message of love and inspiration to people, and to give them a form of hope – both in the present and for the future’.
Hbee also makes reference to the present Hero of the music world Burna Boy, explaining that the artiste gives joy to his listeners with hit songs, while on side also recording some other virtually socially conscious songs. He concludes his premise by stating that now, Burna Boy has given joy to every Nigerian by winning the Grammy, ‘and that’s just what is for me; playing the longevity game by being consistent with good music; music that gives joy anytime, any day’.
Hbee, recently put out a music video for his hit song, Special. It is a thing that sparks curiosity when an artiste puts out visuals for a song that was released months back. I asked him why he took this approach. His response?
‘Actually I put out Special on my birthday last year. It was a song to just cheer up the fans. You know birthdays are like a new phase in a person’s life so I was just trying to make my listeners feel good along with me on that special day. Special was actually recorded along with other tracks for an EP, but the management said that since I loved the song so much I could put it out, and then subsequently they suggested that I could put out a music video for it too, and that’s why we have released the video now.’
Being happy along the lines of the release of his music video, Hbee uses the medium to throw a ray on his forthcoming Extended Play.
‘The EP is already planned. We have a lot in mind for it, but we’d rather just take our time with it. It is a five-track project, and we hope to put a couple of big names and people who make good music on it’.
With a solid management team working behind him, Hbee’s journey as an independent artiste is one with tales of forbearance to tell;
‘Being independent actually has taught me a lot and built my confidence as an artiste, especially with my ability to be patient – you know as artistes there are lots of things we want to achieve in a short time, but because of funds and the lack of it thereof, or because of limited resources, we can’t achieve all of these goals – so being independent has taught me to make good use of the limited resources I have at hand as I can’t have everything I wish for. I think artiste development generally comes from first being independent; learning things first-hand, letting management put you through on things – it is a beautiful experience for me, and most importantly, it is fun.
In my opinion it is even a plus to start out independent so when we eventually make it to the mainstream or meet a bigger label/investors, navigating the industry then would be seamlessly easy for someone like me because I had already taken the pain to learn while being independent’.
A tight-bond relationship with one’s manager, Hbee suggests, is one of the key ingredients necessary for growth
‘The artiste and the manager should have a 5 & 6 bond. There shouldn’t be misunderstanding between both parties. Obviously there would be to some extent, but I believe that once the manager and the artiste have similar goals and dreams, then there should be no issues that cannot be rectified and brushed aside for the greater good.
As an artiste I’ve also learned to just listen. Because the management team knows its role, and I know mine. In most cases the management team knows better than the artiste when it comes to putting out the content out there, so we work perfectly fine when we listen’.
For Hbee, greatness is the mantra. Going forward to achieve greatness in the mainstream is his watchword. He believes that because he started from scratch, he would have an unfair advantage at achieving his goals. By revisiting his past and comparing it to the present, wondering on how he has turned out to be whom he now is, Hbee admits that change is constant. One marker for growth for by his standards, he suggests are musical delivery and knowledge of sound. Judging himself on this scale, he says he has improved over time, unnoticed, and that is a beautiful perk of learning and experience. He admits to the new pressure that comes along with greater expectations:
‘I’m human, and I’ve actually had days where I’m not sure if some things are going to work, but I’ve built my confidence to that point where I don’t have to dwell on second guessing and doubting myself’.
If you ask any artistes whether or not they believe that they are making good music the response is most likely to be positive, which is valid since everyone has their own definition for the term ‘good music’. For Hbee, good music is any type of music that passes a message across and makes the listener feel good. His emphasis is on the music passing across a message.
For the rest of the career ahead of him, Hbee aims fervently to achieve global recognition for his works. He has strong faith that his sound will cut across every part of the world, bearing the gift of his music:
‘Let the music get across to everyone. Let it touch the souls of everyone in the world. That is the goal’.
Hbee moves on towards the next goals to chase.