HBee Wants To Make Music That Stands The Test Of Time

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Jackson Ekene Mba, popularly known as Hbee, is an Enugu born Afropop and Afrofusion singer who released his official debut EP titled Wickedest Vibe last year to rave reviews. His 2021 follow-up, Special is a love message to all his fans as he believes “everybody is special”.

In this interview, he opens up on the challenges he’s faced being an independent artiste, releasing his debut EP in the heat of the pandemic, his musical inspiration and future plans.

I understand you just dropped new music and video. How has the reception been?

It’s been good so far. I’ve been getting good words from people here and there. The new release has been getting pretty good reviews. I’ve been getting calls from people, talking about my song, how it makes them feel and things like that.
How long did it take you to put the song and video together before the release?
It didn’t take me too long because my recording sessions are always brief. All I need to do is just be in the studio with my producer. He just plays the beat for me, I listen to it and we come out with magic. We have a bond already, my producer, Trendz and I. That was how it happened. We went to the studio, listened to the instrumental, I loved it and I vibed to it.
That brings me to this next question. What’s your creative process like?
My creative process is always fun. It’s always nice because I get to come to with my originality and my uniqueness. I don’t write my songs. I just need to listen to the instrumentals. The session for me is just about listening to the instrumentals, catch a vibe, and then I go ham on it.
What do you think about conscious music?
I believe that every good music should pass a message. I like to make conscious music and that’s something that I’ve been doing throughout my career. That’s all I want to do. I want my music to always pass a message. It should give the people hope. It should make them feel excited, make them happy. Music is supposed to be a universal language that cuts across barriers.
What would you say is the message you’re trying to pass with Special?
Special is a love song actually. I’m just trying to preach love to my fans. I believe everybody is special and they should be treated that way. Basically, the song was not dedicated to anybody in particular. It’s for everybody. Everybody is special.
How has the pandemic impacted your craft?
My song, Ejo blew up during the pandemic. So I’ll say the pandemic has had its advantages and disadvantages. But at the end of the day, you have to keep moving. One important thing I learned during the pandemic was patience. I was able to work more on my sound and creativity.   It’s actually helped me a lot. I was able to study and understand my kind of sound, and also work on developing it. On the downside, you know we couldn’t go out. Most of our work moved online. We could not do a lot of the field work like going out, connecting with people, and doing more of the things that could have made the song blow up more than it actually did. But we thank God all the same.
I’m quite convinced that you miss concerts and big events. You really cannot wait to go out to shut down major venues.
We all miss it. We’re just hoping that things can return to normal soon enough, so we can hit the road and do all the things we use to do before the pandemic hit.
As an independent artiste, what’s surviving in the Nigerian music industry like?
Well, it’s not been a smooth sail. But at the end of the day, like I always say, a legendary career can not be hidden. So as an independent artiste, I’ve just been trying to find, grow and connect with my audience. I’m actually open to work with anybody that’s ready to work. I’m ready to work with any label or investors. It has not been easy, but we keep pushing.
What would you say have been the specific challenges?
Funds, because music is promotion at the end of the day. No song can blow without promotion. You need to be promoted. People need to hear you. For me, I think my major challenge is just funds to reach a wide audience because the music is good. It’s sellable. It’s just left to promoting putting it on all platforms where it can be heard, to cut across different countries. That’s just the only setback we’re having. Being an independent artiste has taught me a lot and I’m grateful for that. I believe we’ll do a lot better when I’m with a big label and I have that platform to showcase what I’ve got.
What inspires your music?
I’m a spiritual person. I just need to listen to the beat. The beat inspires me to create. I don’t write. I do most of my recording on my phone. I just get into the studio and do my thing. That’s how it’s always been for me.
Which three Nigerian producers would you love to work with?
I have a couple of them that I love their sound. I’d love to work with Leriq. I’d love to work with Killertunes. I’d love to work with Masterkrafts. I love his sound. I’d also love to work with Sarz.
What about musicians?
There’s a couple of them that I love their sound. I actually make good music so if you have good sound too, I’m easily drawn to your stuff. I’d love to work with David, Wiz and Burna. I’d love to work with Tiwa Savage. I like her sound. I’d love to work with Tems. I like her style too.
Earlier, you mentioned that being an independent artiste has taught you many things that you will be able to easily apply when you eventually get a record deal. What three lessons have you learned as an independent artiste that you can share with others?
Yeah, it’s like a plus for you because for someone like me, I’ve mastered my type of sound. I’ve grown in the game already. I’ve been able to build up my confidence. That’s what’s working for me. I’ve learned to be patient, because things don’t always go as you envision it. There will be challenges. It’s not going to be all rosy. I’ve learned to work smart because you know you don’t have all the resources you need so you have to be smart in deploying the little you have. I’ll say, just work more on your creativity because at the end of the day, that’s what guarantees your longevity in the industry. Your music needs to ring a bell anytime they play it so you have to work harder than the artistes that have the platform already.
What are your future plans around the music?
My future plan is to make evergreen music. I also plan to feature other artistes that fit my sound, cut across other sounds and merge with mine. I also plan to shoot some videos, travel, put out my EP before the end of the year. I’m planning to put out a five-track EP. Just work, work, work for me. That’s my future plan.
Do you want to give us some scoop on the EP? Date of release, expected features and theme of the EP.
I’ve not even given the EP a name yet. I know once it’s time and I get into my vibe, I’ll come up with a name for it. I’m featuring some artistes on it which I wouldn’t like to mention yet. Just know that it’s going to have some names that you know. It’s going to be a masterpiece. On my first EP, I didn’t feature anyone. It was just me expressing myself and showing off my talent in that project. This next one, we’re going to be tapping into other sounds and creating something magical. Everybody should expect a fire EP.
Where do you see the HBee brand five years from now in the industry?
I see the brand going global. That’s how I see myself in the next five years. Despite the obstacles, we’ll get there. A legendary career can never be small. I see myself shutting down major concerts. I see myself doing what I love and doing it big. And that’s music.
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