Fast rising Afro-pop artiste, Ekene Ijemba, popularly known as ‘Humblesmith’ recently released a new single featuring 2nite entertainment act, Flavour. In this chat with Vanguard, the Osinachi crooner makes shocking revelations about his family background, childhood, music career, and the music industry.
Journey so far
I was born and brought up in Ebonyi State. Music started for me when I was a kid, it actually runs in the family. My mother is a good singer; she is a chorister in the church, most times she sang at home, likewise other members of my family. Everything my mom does goes with music, at times, if she wants to talk to you she talks with music. All these and more got me inspired.
Also, I usually listened to Bright Chimezie and his contemporaries, so at a point music just became a part of me. I started out as a dancer in 1996; I was part of a group called American Boys, we used to dance, sing and act. After my secondary education, I decided to relocate to Delta State to pursue my music career, my parents refused but I insisted. Though before then, I had done some other things that made them finally support my decision. I partook in the first-ever Star Quest competition, I came second and I won a big flat screen TV. When I got back home with the TV and the crowd that accompanied me, my parents were overjoyed. It was at that point they knew that I was really bent on doing music. So when I insisted I was relocating to Asaba in Delta state, they just had to support me.
Parental and family support
Parents usually love their kids to pursue a career that people will appreciate. As at that time my parents believed that doing music as a career was for wayward people, but I didn’t let that discourage me. I am from a Catholic background, so they didn’t want anything to distract me from going to church and probably become a priest. My mom wanted me to become a Catholic priest while my dad wanted me to be a footballer because he is a football coach. I had to apply wisdom and diplomacy; I did everything they wanted me to do. I played ball, I served in church. I didn’t do it to please them; I did it just to be sure of what was actually going to work for me. I later discovered that I was born to do music. I used to bring people home to convince my parents to understand that music is what I wanted to do. As time went on, my parents came to terms with it, so they had no choice but to support my choice of career.
Survival after relocating to Delta
After my relocation to Delta State, things were so rough for me. When I was still with my parents, I was known as a moi-moi seller. I and my siblings hawked moi-moi on the streets, that was how my parents were able to train eight children through primary and secondary school. When I first got to Asaba I had to study the environment to understand the terrain and know what works and what doesn’t. I just had to think of a legit way to fend for myself because I had nobody to help me out there. I hustled on the streets of Asaba, I made trending shoes, sandals, slippers, and belts and sold them to students and workers just to make some money to pursue my music career and equally fend for myself. I remembered that when I was in secondary school, I was the drama director, so I formed a drama group, wrote scripts that portrayed current happenings in the society. I would then go to discuss with the principal of various secondary schools to allow us stage our play for students to watch after paying a small amount of money. I also used to do menial jobs like bricklaying, carrying sand and blocks.
Wherever I see construction work going on, I will go there and beg to work with them for daily pay. Also, if I see a bushy compound I will approach the owner and offer to clear the grasses for an amount of money. I hustled seriously on the streets to survive; it got to a point that I opened a video rental shop in Asaba. I stole and sold my mom’s gold to pay for my first studio session, but I later confessed and apologized to her, promising to buy her more than what I stole in the nearest future.
Education or music?
For now I’m fully into music. I stopped schooling after my secondary school education, but I hope to continue, but that will be after I’ve made a lot of money, financially comfortable and capable of catering for my family. I don’t want to stress my parents anymore, they have done a lot already so let me take it up from where they stopped.
New single with Flavour Na’bania
I have always been a fan of Flavour right from day one. My manager met Flavor in London, played my song to his hearing and he liked it. Though Flavor has always loved my song from when I did my first single Chairmoo. Jukwese is a song I’ve done for some time now, even before Osinachi. I was unable to hook up with Flavour on time to jump on it so we dropped Osinachi, but thank God I was later able to get Flavour to jump on the single with me. I didn’t pay him a dime to feature on the song, he did it out of the love he has for my music.
How the stage name ‘Humblesmith’ originated
I used to have a friend that I usually hang out with; he was popularly known as ‘Humble’. Whenever I’m with him I’m quiet, I don’t talk, so his friends usually think I’m a very quiet and humble person. So they began to call me ‘Humble’ and the name just stuck. So when I began doing music professionally, I decided to add ‘Smart’ to the name ‘Humble’ so derive a ‘Humblesmart’ as my stage name. But something funny happened when I went to perform at a show, the person who wrote my name on the list of artistes to perform wrote ‘Humblesmith” instead of ‘Humblesmart’. When it was my turn to perform and I heard the MC mention ‘Humblesmith’, I began to wonder if there was another artiste bearing the name, but I was the one being called upon so I just climbed the stage and did my thing. After the show, I thought the name wasn’t bad so I adopted it as my new stage name.
Fans abuse on social media
No matter what you do people will always talk, but I want you to know that the number one thing I love are my fans. Whether I’m following you on social media or not has nothing to do with respect or love, and it doesn’t change me from being the Humblesmith that I am. In life it’s a normal thing to try some things when you get to a certain stage. I un-followed everybody on Instagram including my sisters, because my management needed to work on my page. I don’t own myself, I have a label to which I am signed and I always need to obey them. Most fans got angry and abused me because I un-followed them on Instagram, but trust me, I don’t hate anybody.
Hardwork has brought me to where I am today so why would I want to spoil what I’ve built? To all my fans that are angry, I say I am sorry. To handle stardom is not easy, there are a lot of people that just want you to obey them and it’s not possible to please everybody. I just want to appeal to my fans who have believed in me not to stop because Humblesmith won’t disappoint. I need your support because there is so much in me that I am yet to discover so we are doing this music for ourselves. If you love me for Osinachi or Jukwuse, keep loving me because a lot is yet to come.