By Emmanuel T. Edward
At the mere mention of “Osinachi” comes a prickle sound which heightens ones interest. Then comes the puzzle; could it be the melodious tunes or the rich vocals of the artiste that spurs this feeling? Well, many questions could be asked but, one thing is sure, “Osinachi” has brought Chukwuekene Ijemba, a.k.a Humblesmith, great fortunes and the much coveted spotlight.
Indeed, true commitment to one’s hustle is the reward of success. Like the popular saying goes “Everyday a star is born.” As time goes by, some artistes fade away with their songs, while raw and talented youngsters herald the music scene with new rhythm and style. Humblesmith is one of such artistes causing huge traffic on the airwaves across the country. Arguably, he is packed with sizzling vocal dexterity – yelling to be heard.
His flair for music began at an early age, where he started-off as a footballer, singer and street trader. Subsequently, he later anchored on singing, as his passion grew irresistibly strongly.
“I was 6 years old when I first led a group of friends to several social gathering and church programmes.”
This young talent delved into music professionally with his first single “Chairmoo.” Although his effort on the song was impressive, it was barely perceived in the industry. Yet, he kept the fire burning, never lost faith in the power of possibility. And at the darkest hour of the night, his light shined beyond his expectation and the world did hear his name reign on Television, Radio and the internet.
His climb to stardom was noted in 2015 having gifted music aficionados with ‘Osinachi.’ Since then, the world has taken notice of his ingenuity. A monster hit it was, with an impeccable delivery of rich vocal strength, which only needed the right ingredient of Phyno’s indigenous punch lines to make it a popular demand – in clubs.
Gratitude for the huge success
Bewildered by the massive success of “Osinachi”, the Afro pop artiste humbly attributes this feat to consistent hard work, determination and prayers.
“I am so grateful to God and thankful to my fans and my management who has been pushing my songs to the public, and finally they have accepted me. I am so grateful to God,” he humbly noted.
Journey through the thick and thin
“Talking about my background, I was born and brought up in Ebonyi State. My full name is Chukwuekene Ijemba. I was born into a family of ten; five boys and three girls, my mother and my father. The whole thing started from Ebonyi State, which was where I grew up. Somehow, at some point, I found myself on the street hawking to make a living; coming from an average background.”
He might have lost, fallen and beaten the wind a few times, but he saved his pride and kept faith that someday; the world would reckon with his melodies. For Humblesmith, challenges are blessings in disguise that prepare one for titanic greatness that lie ahead.
In his words “I hawked moin moin till I finished secondary school. Since I was a kid, I have been a fan of music. It runs in the family as my mum is a good singer, she sings in choir and my father listens to different genre of music as well,” he emphasized.
The sweet cadences of Nigeria’s finest Highlife artiste, Bright Chimezie became a motivation for this young talent. Humblesmith further honed his musical skill whilst, listening to these tunes. According to him, “while growing up I was listening to Bright Chimezie’s songs, hence I had it in mind that someday I am going to take music seriously as a career. So after my secondary school I decided to channel my energy in music. I intended to further my education but I couldn’t with the poor background of my parents. As an Igbo boy, I just have to hustle, make the money and go back to school if I can. In 2008, I left Ebonyi State for Asaba.
“So, I continued the hustle in Asaba. I joined the Nollywood crew, in few films, I worked as the boom microphone man, the pros and set and a personal assistant. There was a time that I had to work in a construction site, for daily survival. I made some money from there, and then I opened a film rental shop, where I rented and sold both audio and video compact discs. I spent four years in Asaba. Afterwards I left Asaba for Lagos in 2012. Coming to Lagos made me to understand something about music; that music is not all about the fact that you can sing and people are clapping for you. I understood that music is business; if you really believe in music then you have to do music commercially, while you earn a living from it. I prayed to God to connect me to the right person to work with, I fasted and prayed to God to give me a good management. God finally answered my prayers when he connected me to N-tyze Entertainment, which is owned by Bob Kelly Williams. My story changed since I met with him. He told me that if I believe in what I do then he will take me there, and I shouldn’t worry and listen to what people say. There were times people said that I should go back to the village when things got very rough. He encouraged me that I shouldn’t worry, and that my breakthrough would come very soon, that I should just keep doing good music.”
Creating the hit ‘Osinachi’
The early months in 2015, played out a test of faith for Humblesmith and his manager. Having shot two videos in the United Kingdom, the young talent believed it was time to start a busy life, with a long list of local and international bookings, meetings and other events that implied smiling to the banks. So, he thought, but his heightened expectations soon took a heavy blow, with the different twist of events.
According to him, “My mindset was coming back from the United Kingdom means, that I have blown already and that Nigerians are going to accept me, which relatively implies that, I will be invited to shows. Events did not quite go as planned. While we were back to Nigeria everything stood still; it was more like a road block. The challenge was too much for us that time, and I was confused. I asked myself what is happening. I fasted and prayed, yet nothing changed. At some point, I went to church to pray. I spent the whole day in church; I wasn’t even praying but crying and questioning God. I could hear myself saying ‘After all the money spent on our trip to the UK and nothing to show for it.’ I said to God after all the years spent doing music. My mates are already graduates, if it is wrong for me to do this, let me know so, I could do something else.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that I should stop complaining, that I should rather thank God that I am young and vibrant than most people out there. I thought of it, and I did appreciate God and that was how ‘Osinachi’ became a blessing to me.”
Faith and conviction
“After I had this conviction, I called on my manager and told him that I just got a new hit. He said ‘amen’. So I wrote the song in a church, came back to the house, called the producer, he came over and we worked on the song.”
The ease of collaboration
“Trust me it was easy. I do not even know how it all happened, but it was so easy. One thing that I believe is that, once you are doing something, God is always watching and when it is time for him to intervene; everything will work out smoothly for you. After recording the song, we called Phyno and he just jumped on it, with no stress.”
Music and message
“I am no gospel artiste; I only try to pass a message with my song. Osinachi only narrated God’s blessings that I enjoy today. I am an artiste, a musician that can sing any song. One thing is just letting your songs to connect to everybody not just the youths.”
“Well, we are working on my album, but it is definitely not going to be this year. Hopefully, I will drop my album in the year 2017.”
Rumour on London tour
“You and I know that ‘Osinachi’ is one of the biggest hits in Africa and it is actually big for someone to embark on a tour so, going to London for a tour is not a rumour. I am going to the UK. I will be performing at ‘Crack your ribs’ in London. There is still Europe and United states tour.”
“I look up to my mother; she encourages me a lot, because she is hard-working and focused. She doesn’t give up easily. But, in the music industry, my mentor is Bright Chimezie.”
Parents’ position on musical career
For Humblesmith, music was never up for debate and it was not an option either. His passion and belief kept him going till the very last moment.
He further said, “No parent would want their child to skip education, no matter what. But my mum wanted me to be a reverend father while my dad wanted me to play football. I only wanted to do music. Although I tried all of that, I worked in church as a manservant, played football for some teams in Ebonyi State, but it didn’t work out for me.”
“I hope so, by God’s grace. We are praying and working towards it.”
Next five years
“Performance on world class stages, festivals. Nigeria is a stepping stone for me to explore the world. I will like to be a role model to other young talents that have been through the thick and thin of life.”
“I am a very simple and optimistic person. I believe so much in hard work, and commit all my endeavours to God. I could be shy a bit but I am very confident of myself.”
“The truth is I treasure everyday that I live, because each day comes with a new blessing and hope. As such, my greatest moment is yet to come.”
“Sincerely, being an artiste is not an easy task and climbing to the top in the industry is also a great hurdle as well. I think one of the challenges I faced was trying to get my songs heard.”
Advice to aspiring artistes
“One thing that every upcoming artiste should know is that if you must eat, then you must work. It is all about working and believing in what you are doing, because your hustle must pay one day no matter what. So long you know what you are doing and you are doing it right. Stay away from violence and evil acts.”