MULTI TALENTED: Hulbert Mugabe aka Lec-cho, 28, is a reggae, afro beat and ragga music singer, instrumentalist and a music producer. After many years of operating from other people’s studios he now owns one. The Mbarara based singer is known for his Ekiwala Okilaba that rocked on air waves across towns of Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. Colleb Mugume chatted him up about his musical career journey.
How did you join the music industry?
I started my music career way back in time when I was still in primary school. I used to compose short songs and perform them in front of the class at Booma Primary School in Mbarara. That is where I got the name Lec-cho, a short form of lecturer because pupils could request me to teach/lecturer them about music.
After completing Senior Six, I pursued a diploma course in Music Dance and Drama at Kolp Course Agency Organisation, a Swedish school in Uganda. Then I joined Mafrica Band as a vocalist with Don Balam, Shohole Shaay aka Dr Shaay, Jimmy Pound, Mosey and many others. With Mafrica we went to South Africa for cultural festival competitions where we emerged winners. It was my first time to fly abroad.
A year later, we were again picked up to go to Brazil to represent East Africa at the World Social Forum held at Sao Paulo, a business centre in Brazil. We spent three months there, and it’s where I learnt how to make dreadlocks which really changed my life.
In 2006, I released the first track Okubyama Okatendegyeza from Don Balam’s Home Tune studios. The song was about the real life, simply translated in English as, “If you sleep the world leaves you behind.” Though I had a lot to do with music before, to me this was like my first important step in music having my own record. In 2007 I released the second record called Just A Friend with late Douglas. By then I had started learning music production.
In 2010, I released Ekiwala Okilaba, which is still rocking.
What really inspired you to pursue music?
So many things inspired me, but the most influence was from my dad, Mr Lauben Musasizi. When I was about four years old, he used to sing for us and I loved his smooth base voice during prayer sessions. I grew up in a religious family where we used to pray every morning and evening. We sang and praised the Lord, which is how my dad inspired me. I remember praying that I wish I could sing like him and indeed I did.
Another inspiring moment was when I was rewarded with a dozen of exercise books and a set of clay plates during primary school singing competitions at Mbarara Catholic Social Centre hall. Also the Rasta and reggae star Lucky Dube (RIP) had a lot to do with my love towards music. I really liked his music, even he was my role model.
What is the perception of people towards you and your music?
I think people love me and expect so much from me. If I spend long without a new release, they demand for new music. I make sure I don’t betray them, I give them the best.
What has been the biggest moment in your music career?
The time when I crossed Atlantic Ocean with Mafrica band flying to Brazil for World Social Forum where we entertained over 10,000 people. It was the greatest point in my life. If it were not for music, I would never have travelled to places like South Africa, Brazil, Rwanda and Juba.
What is your advice to young people?
What I want to advise people mostly the young generation is to be patient enough in everything.
What do you hate?
I hate people who perceive me the wrong way just because of my appearance, like calling me a rascal or criminal because of dreadlocks whereas I am not that kind. Sometimes you find that those who are judging you wrongly are the ones with dirty hearts.
And what do you like most?
Music is what I like most in my life.
what others say
“I take him as best in dancehall and ragga musician, so I love his music and I respect him because he is hardworking guy.”
Dr Shohole Shaay, a TV presenter & musician.
I like his meaningful songs, most of his songs carry important messages like Okubyama Okatendegyeza. It really teaches something that if you sleep a lot the world leaves you behind. I also consider him as a music master because he knows everything concerning music – he sings and also does production.”
Leonard Nsaba, a producer with String Studios.