The mastermind who discovered Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP), Vusi Leeuw, has hailed him as a pioneer of Motswako music that broke barriers in local music.
Leeuw gave HHP his big break after signing him to his then novice label CCP in the late 1990s. He met HHP through the late Isaac Mthethwa – the younger brother of kwaito legend Eugene Mthethwa.
“Isaac had done a few tracks from his debut album, it was still a demo at the time. He was one of the first artists I signed under my record label,” said Leeuw yesterday. “Eish! It was him, Mandoza and TK. I’m saying ‘eish’ because all these people are late.
“For me, Jabba was too much of a genius and sometimes people like that feel like the world does not understand them. That was one of the things he battled with, unfortunately, it didn’t go away.”
Leeuw said although he had made many superstars before, including TKZee, he knew that HHP was special.
They worked together on his first three albums before HHP started his own label Baby Phat Records. Leeuw said although the country took notice of his sound, it wasn’t until the release of Harambe that HHP blew up into a superstar.
“Through Jabba, we were able to break [the] barriers. You had an artist rapping in Setswana nationally.
“It was through HHP that the world got to know of Morafe, Khuli Chana and Cassper Nyovest. He was not selfish,” said Leeuw.
“Jabba is like my little brother. Like every sibling, brother or son, there is a time that they finish crawling and they start walking.
“You need to allow them to see the world on their own. Between the two of us, there were never problems; I just allowed him to do things.
“Jabba grew up within the choral environment [because his mother was a choir conductor]. One of the songs that brought out his choral background was Mafikeng. That’s the one side of Jabba that many didn’t know.”