From a professional dancer, to a 9 to 5 job and then back to music and presently making his way into mainstream entertainment, Ebuka Mathew Igbokwe, born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, says that one thing he must do in his life is to harness all his talents. The founder of Hotbillz Empire Record label and fashion designer, in this interview with IFEOMA ONONYE, tells how his journey began and how far he wants to go
When did you discover that music is one of the talents you have?
I discovered it quite early but I was more of a professional dancer until recently when I decided to try music. What inspired me going into music was because I passionately love music. It makes me happy any time I think of it.
In Nigeria now, every young man that can sing in the shower believes he can sing and can become successful as Wizkid. What would you say is different about your choosing music?
To start with, I am not every man. I am Hotbillz and that’s why I am different. I totally believe in chasing and nurturing whatever talent you have. Music means a lot to me and doing it isn’t a mistake.
You speak about music as if its a person you can touch. How do you feel when you think of music?
When I think of music, what comes to my mind is the kind of message I want to pass to my audience. It may be the message of love, peace, hope and life generally. Music itself gives life and the taught of it alone makes me smile.
You are the CEO of your label. Is it just a record label?
Yes I am the CEO of my label and yes it is a record label but not just a record label. We are a Media, Entertainment and Fash- ion company. Our aim is to discover young talents across the globe and prepare them for the global stage and market.
How many singers have you signed into your label?
For now I am the only artiste on the label, but our talent managers are curr e n t l y s c o u t – ing for talents especially in Afr i c a a n d s o o n w e m a y j u s t h a v e m o r e a r – t i s t e s on the label.
Tell us about your educational background. How were your school days? What was your dream when you were still in the university and did anything destroy the dreams you had?
I was born and brought up in Surulere, Lagos. I am from Igbokwe royal family of Nnewi, Anambara State. My life journey started with dancing, and my childhood dream was to be a star.
I studied at Ansar-ud- Deen Grammar School, Surulere and it was a place where you could find many talents. I learnt breakdancing in my school days, and was always going to the school hall to watch my seniors challenge themselves.
It was so much fun. Then I started challenging other people and getting better with my dance moves. I joined a group called The Don Steppers. We used to go for shows all the time but never got paid.
As the first child, I knew that can’t be the source of my income, so I started working for people after I finished my secondary school, but wasn’t earning enough. So I applied to study abroad, I got two administrations abroad but opted for a prestigious university in Malaysia.
You are said to be a fashion designer. Tell us about this talent…
Yes, while growing up, one of my talents was dressing up so nicely and playing with colours. You could see that I love fashion from what I wear.
I am working on my new fashion collection, I really don’t wanna let the cat out of the bag but soon you will see what I’m working on.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I have a huge aspiration for the future. I want to see Hotbillz become a household name soon, I want to help young people who are talented in Africa especially achieve their dreams.
What’s your view about the present happenings in Nigeria?
Despite what is happening in the country, we must constantly pray for the peace, u n i t y and love in Nigeria.
Because w e r e a l l y have no o t h e r p l a c e to call home. We must together ensure that we bring the desired change we all yearn for. I sincerely believe that Nigeria will be great again.