Botswana: King of Motswako


Francistown — He is one of the pioneers of Motswako. Jabulani Tsambo, aka Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP) has been at the forefront of the movement of vernacular rap. He is currently regarded as the best in the genre. Born in South Africa, the talented brother is considered by many to be a Motswana as well. Together with his partner, Seabelo Modibe, his company, Lekoko Entertainment is registered here in Botswana, making him eligible for a BOMU Award. DJ Sid spoke to the brother recently about his life and career in music.

Q. Congratulations on getting Channel O and MTV award nominations. Did you expect it, especially the latter?

Never in a million years. I always tell people that 5 years ago, I never would have thought I'd achieve half of the things I've achieved (one of them being King of the dance floor). I don't know what I'll achieve 5 years from now. For now, I can only be happy and grateful to the elements that make JABBA.

Q. What has been the secret to your success seeing that the early years of Setswana hip hop/Motswako were very tough?

Jeso (Jesus). (I guess it's not a secret anymore). I'd be lying to both you and the world if I gave you another answer. It could have been gymnastics, football or acting...whatever path I could have walked; it would have turned out the same way, I think.

Q. Between you and Mr T, who started rapping in Setswana?

Neither one of us. I heard it from Stoan Cold T (Stoan of Bongo Mafffin) and Prof of Baphixile...

Q. You have worked with him in your previous project, what does he need to do to blow up like you, Tuks, Baphixile and Molemi?

To be patient. Everything works with time. The more patient you are, the more time the universe has to conspire to your favour. Ga ke itsi if wa ntlhaloganya?

Q. Lets go back in history. How did you hook up with Seabelo Modibe, and what roles do you each play in your partnership?

I met him in South Africa during a business trip intended for meeting someone else. He happened to run into me, looking for the contacts of the person I was looking for. I was just a student at RAU and about to record my album Maftown. He told me how he could assist me with business, as he himself was an accountancy student, and since I was studying Corporate Communications, we could make a mean team in the future. To some degree, Seabelo was the visionary that partly created the HHP of today.

Q. You both now run Lekoko Entertainment, what happened to your original label?

We had legal tiffs with our original partners. Plus, the name Baby Phat clashed with the Russell Simmons female franchise Baby Phat brand. Lekoko made a lot of sense. We are not just a record label... re PARTY.

Q. Your company is registered in Botswana and South Africa which makes you both a SA and Botswana artist, doesn't it?

It does.

Q. Tell us about your first album release and how it did?

I think I sold 400 CDS. I was and still am very proud of that first 400. It was the beginning of a long and prosperous journey.

Q. What is the future of your style of music?

Motswako itself is the future. It has a mind of its own.

Q. What do we, as Africans need to do to get world recognition?

We need to be ourselves. Ofuneka and Justice of BBA did just that.

Q. I often tell aspiring rappers not to try and take on Jay-Z and company, but to contextualise their music to sound global yet still have an African identity. Is that sound advice?

In fact it's so good I should write it in my journal as well. You are absolutely right.

Q. Which major artists from overseas have you performed with and are they worth the hype?

Snoop Dogg, Shaun Paul, Mario, Shanice, Puff Johnson, Jamie Cullum, Keith Murray, Will Downing, Saskia Leroux.

Q. Your last two albums have done so well, what should the public expect from your next one?

The very same thing. Only magnified 200 times.

Q. You recently made headlines by winning a dance competition. How was the experience?

It was a tough experience, but one that has shaped my character today. Nothing comes your way without hard work.

Q. By helping DJ Trax realize his dreams of releasing his album, you further endeared yourself to the people of Botswana. Tell us about that project?

The DJ Traxx album was something that was long overdue. He is a very talented DJ, one who is critically acclaimed amongst fellow DJs, even South African ones. Seabelo bringing his project our way was a huge step for both Trax and us as a company. Expect great things from this man.

Q. How is it doing in South Africa?

Mzanzi is mzanzi. Crime, Laughter, Music and ditshele...

Q. When you have failed, which we all do, how have you picked yourself up again?

Of course, I'm made of rubber. When I'm thrown against a wall, I bounce back.

Q. What do you consider to be the most life changing experience you have had?

Being a father.

Q. What's your opinion on artists who mime and lip-synch?

You do it if it calls for it (i.e. TV recordings and such). In other cases, it's wrong.

Q. Are you comfortable being a celebrity?

I take it an hour at a time.

Q. Who's your biggest competition?

MYSELF. I can either make or break myself. So can anybody else.

Q. Winning the MTV award will catapult you into a global superstar. Are you ready for that?

I don't know.

Q. Would you be able to handle the pressure?

I don't know.

Q. What does the future hold for you?

I hope everything good...

Q. If you had complete freedom of what to record, what album would you most like to record?

A complete singing album. I love singing.

Q. What does your family think of your music career?

They are very supportive. They actually love the attention.

Q. You have such a great personality, who do you credit that with and why?

I'll give this one to my dad. That guy wa rocka. I admire him a lot.

Q. What do you still want to improve on?

Being too friendly. That can be damaging.

Q. Are you taken my man, I bet there must be lots of super hot gals after your ass?


Q. Name five people you are going to thank if you win at Channel O and MTV Awards?

Marcel Mouton, Allistor Mokoena, Kerry Friend, Bridget and Donavan of OGILVY.

Q. Hahaha! You are going to be killed by many others for not thanking them. Your last words?

Batswana ba nkamogetse lefatshe le ntantlhile. Ha nkitla kalo latlha. Tlalo atlarela ka diatla.

Personal Profile

Name: Jabulani Tsambo

DoB/PoB: 14 Sept 1980 in Mafikeng

Nickname: Jabba

Marital Status: Engaged

Home Village: Phokeng, North West province, RSA

Education: TV & Film Diploma from Wits TV.

Ambition(s): Produce a drama series on Btv called Motlholagadi wa tigane.

Mentor/Inspiration: Jeso

Motto: People who say it can't be done should leave those who are doing it

Dislike: I dislike pride.

Most embarrassing moment: Wearing pink and dancing the SAMBA

First Kiss: In matric. I was 18years old.

Most Pleasant moment: Meeting mmaagwe Leano.

Hero: Christopher Wallace

Fav. Music: Soul Music

Fav. Food: Bryani

Fav. Car: Any station wagon

Fav. Movie: Shawshank Redemption

Fav. Artist: Jay-Z

Vacation Destination: Cologne in Germany

Advice to youth: Ithateng.

Hobbies: Reading

Ideal woman: Big Breasts, Ankge monate, must be GOD fearing.

Favourite radio station: To be Politically Correct, I will say YARONA FM

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