HHP has joined Clash of the Choirs

Munya Vomo

With Clash of Choirs SA back on screen, and based on it’s success last year, Tonight grabbed the chance to speak to one of this year’s judges, rapper HHP.

The man has done well in the music industry as he is among the country’s top rappers. HHP debuted at a time when a vernacular brand of hip hop known as Motswako was still in its infancy. He then helped cultivate it to levels and markets that it had not reached before.

Apart from his many music awards, HHP shocked South Africa when he won Strictly Come Dancing in 2007.

With that in mind, it should be intriguing to see him compete again on national television, this time as a choirmaster.

“When I got the call to be a choir-master, they told me I would be assembling a team from the Free State. For me, when I think Free State I can’t help but think of the Celtics and not much singing,” he joked.

“They sing well, but I never thought I’d come up with anything special. I know a few guys, Afro-pop, jazz and gospel singers, but I never thought I would find contemporary singers.”

But the Free State would surprise him: “I must admit I was shocked at the amount of talent there. I was actually caught in the dilemma that we only have space for 20 voices yet I found myself begging the producers to be allowed 10 more.”

With that plea denied, HHP had to determine how the select few would work for him.

“I could have chosen three different styles of choirs, but the one I have now is a good mix of the contemporary and traditional styles, so we have a good balance going into the competition. What’s nice about them is they are not just singers but also creatives. They know how to sit down and conceptualise a theme,” he said.

While that sounds like a powerful team, HHP also cited a few problems.

“It has just come to my attention that two of my members where in the show last year. They were in Thembi’s team and I wish they had told me earlier. I would have preferred new blood. The other problem I can foresee is these choir members playing the blame game where they insinuate the choir-masters are the reason they lost, like they did last season. I am hoping there will be none of that this year,” he said.

Coming to the task at hand, the rapper was not shy to say he was not well equipped to do the job since it was not his specialty.

“I do know my way around vocal chords as I have been in a choir before. I think what is going to make this whole experience credible is everybody’s willingness to accommodate each other. That is going to go a long way,” he said.

The rapper will have some behind-the-scenes help – from his mother, who is a choirmistress.

“I will touch base with her every now and then for advice. My biggest concern is trying to differentiate which voice is what. I sing a lot of harmonies on my albums and never know if I am singing alto, tenor or lower tenor. I know bass and falsetto though, but the other things… I need to know these things.

“I am also blessed with great musicians in my band and I am going consult them, too,” he said.

Clash of the Choirs airs on Sunday at 5.30pm on Mzansi Magic, DStv channel 161.