Legendary South African musician Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse speaks about the passing of hip hop artist HHP at the African News Agency (ANA) studios. Photo:Ian Landsberg/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

CAPE TOWN - With depression becoming a hot topic in the wake of the death of South African hip-hop star Jabulani Tsambo, better known by his stage name HHP, music legend Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse weighed in on Friday, calling on people to carry on the conversation.

Mabuse, who performs at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town on Friday night after a 30 year absence, said he was very fond of HHP and was unaware of his troubles.

"He was almost like my child because I grew up with his uncles, with his mom and dad and some of his aunts were my classmates so he was that little kid that I've always known," said Mabuse.

"It came as a devastating shock to me because I didn't expect it. I didn't sense that something was wrong because every time I met with him there was always this exuberance of energy from him, he was happy to see me and give me a hug and we'd talk about things he'd want to do, things he believes I should advise him on, and the light was just extinguished like that."

He encouraged not only artists but all those suffering from the condition to speak about it.

"We also tend to focus too much on the artist. Society on the whole, there are people going through these challenges....we've stopped caring. We've stopped doing that."

"We also need to open our hearts where we feel aggrieved about things, we must talk about these things. He [HHP] was giving an impression that he was always okay. It's always okay when you're on stage because you're oblivious of everything that is surrounding you, but emotionally probably you breaking and the stage is lonely, it's quite lonely."

HHP passed away on Wednesday and while his family has not confirmed the cause of death, the rapper had previously talked about depression and how he had attempted three times to take his life in 2015.

His family have appealed for privacy while they finalise funeral arrangements.

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African News Agency (ANA)