Jabulani Tsambo, popularly known as HHP (Hip Hop Panstula) or Jabba, was born in Mafikeng in the North West Province on 14 September 1980, later moving to Pretoria, Gauteng where he completed his schooling at St Alban’s College.
A Mostwako MC, he was well versed in many local languages, but mainly rapped in Setswana.
The star displayed a love for music from a young age, teaming up with his high school friends to start the group Verbal Assassins as a teenager.
With the help of Chicco Twala they created their debut album Party before disbanding in 1997.
HHP later went on to release a number of albums including Introduction, Maftown, O Mang?, Acceptance Speech and Motswako High School.
In April 2018 the artist mentioned in a Twitter post that his album DRUM would be his final. After being questioned by a fan on the social media site about when he would drop the album, and whether or not it will be his last, the rapper responded: “Yes it’s my last.”
During his extensive career, HHP had been nominated for numbers awards, including a BET for Best International Actin 2010. The star also won over the hearts of thousands when he took to the dance floor as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing SA in 2007. Eventually winning the competition alongside partner Hayley Bennet.
In 2016 reports surfaced that HHP had tied the knot with former Big Brother Africa contestant Lerato Sengati. The two were very private about their relationship, but the rapper finally confirmed the rumours in an interview with Slikour, saying: “Being married is amazing.”
However, in 2018, the rumour mill was buzzing once again, this time with news that the couple had separated.
STRUGGLE WITH DEPRESSION
It was not always smooth sailing for HHP. In an interview with Gareth Cliff in 2016, the musician admitted that he had attempted suicide three times.
“This voice came to me and said, ‘Dude, if you really want to die, you need to live. If you really want to die, you need to do that shit that you’ve always wanted to do and you’ve always been scared of doing and one of those is speaking my mind’,” he told Gareth.
Days later the star had reportedly checked into rehab for a 10 day period to “clear his system of anti-depressants.”
The rapper was also candid about his struggle with depression, telling DRUM in an interview: “People won’t remember HHP for Music & Lights any more – they’re going to remember me for reminding them that they have to do something for someone else.”
Friends and family streaming in to the Randburg home of late rapper Jabulani 'HHP' Tsambo are leaving in tears as the reality of their loss sets in.
Those close to the late musician visited his home soon upon hearing of his passing on Wednesday. Among those who made it to the house was long time friend and producer Thabiso “Thasman” Tsotetsi.
Thasman shared a 20 year friendship with the rapper and also produced for him from their days in Mafikeng. The producer said he was hurting. “My body is aching. My head is pounding. I am numb,” he told the press outside HHP’s home. He said he will remember Jabba as "a creative genius. He would walk in to the studio and you would give him one line and he would turn it in to a hit."
“He is the best friend anyone can have. He was loving, caring and a giving person,” said Thasman.
The producer last spoke to Tsambo on Friday and he says the rapper was jovial.
Also at the Randpark Ridge home was rap legend Amukelani “AMU” Tshwane. The producer rapper said the death had left him numb. He said he will remember Jabba’s smile the most. “When you arrive at the house the first place he will take you is to the studio to show you what he is working on.”
Amu said HHP had helped artists from his hometown get to the industry. Amu said HHP was one of the first artists to have come to Johannesburg from Mafikeng in an attempt to break in to the industry. “He had a good heart. All the artists that came from Mafikeng arrived at either Jabba’s or Thasman’s house,” Amu said.
Cars had taken up Catalenti Drive as neighbours returned home in the afternoon. The neighbours were shocked upon hearing of the artist’s death. Domestic workers who worked in the neighbourhood said the celebrity was very kind to them and they would visit his home at times.
A domestic worker who said Jabba had been like a child to her saw him on a daily basis and had come to see to him as her child. “He treated everybody with kindness regardless of whether you are a domestic worker or a gardener,” she said.
The workers said the rapper allowed them to use his treadmill for exercising. They said one time, one of them had gone in to his house and found him shooting his album cover. “He said: ‘mama mama come and take photos with me.” She did and ended up in the album cover.
Another friend who was there was rapper Thebe “Lection” Lekhonkhobe who also hails from Mafikeng. The rapper met HHP through Thasman and struck up a decade long friendship. Lection says he wants to remember Jabba 'as a bubbly person.' "He was funny for days. Young people need to know that he played a big role in our lives as hip hop artists.”
The family released a statement on Wednesday evening requesting privacy at the moment. “It is with heavy hearts that we confirm that Jabulani Tsambo, known to his fans as Hip Hop Pantsula, passed away today, Wednesday, 24 October 2018. At the time of his passing he was 38-year-old. He is survived by his wife, his parents, two sisters, his son and nephew," wrote family spokesperson Edgar Makgeledise