After years of being a force to be recognized within the music industry as part of two major groups, Skeem and Jozi, and with his many fans still expecting a lot from him, Ishmael Morabe disappeared from the music scene for years.
Stating that his drug abuse clouded the reputable name he had made for himself. Now, Morabe says he is making a comeback and plans to win back his fans’ loyalty and gain new fans with his new single, Gimme Gimme Gimme. The track features Cameroonian Pigin Trap, God Makizar, and Xigubu songstress Fiesta Black, with DJ Megi on the beats.
Morabe talked about why he disappeared, his drug problem and the difficulty of returning to the industry.
“Music is what I do. It’s my career. It is how I eat. Making this comeback is like coming back to work, pretty much,” he said.
“I think the style of the single accommodates my fans and also accommodates new people because it has that modern vibe.”
Morabe, who says the single is already climbing the charts, hopes to collaborate with other artists in future.
“Actually, I will be releasing with Reason, because we already worked on a track together the year before last.
“I think it’s a dope track, and I’m in a place where it can actually be pushed and can definitely work.”
Indicating that his drug addiction was one of the reasons he got swallowed up by the industry, he points out that trying to work independently also contributed to his downfall.
“Because of this, I didn’t have enough resources to get the music out to the people but, now, I’m not trying to do it alone anymore.
“I’m comfortable in saying that because I tried it and saw how difficult it can be.”
Morabe says he is now more focused, content with what he does and more appreciative of what he has, compared with how he used to be. He added that he hasn’t kept many of his old industry friends, apart from Lucky from the kwaito group, Skeem.
“Nobody will hang around you as a friend if they are not gaining anything from you.
“Life keeps changing. People are busy.”
Morabe believes what led him towards drugs was the company he kept and the availability of drugs.
“The company, space and places you go to count. I think that is pretty much it.
“That is what got me closer to drugs, testing them and eventually addicted to them and into problems.”
His addiction affected his music negatively and messed things up for him, he says.
“Once drugs get you and you are addicted, they kind of own you, until you are not yourself any more. You scare people away.”
Morabe adds that as tough as it is, he can confidently say he has dealt with his drug problem, explaining that addiction is an everyday battle.
“As they say, one day at a time. You are never 100% free from addiction. You just have to do your best to stay away every day and the end of each day, to celebrate that I won yet again.”
The Avulekile Amasango hit-maker says he cannot quantify the enormous amount of money he wasted on drugs.
“Drugs are tricky because when you get into them, you don’t buy them yourself. There are always people bringing them until you get hooked, then money starts going out. But it’s hard to actually say how much I’ve wasted on drugs, but it was serious money.”
You must always have that one person you are scared of and respect, so that when they speak, you listen.
“This person will help you in terms of guiding you because other people are just fans; they are there for the fame, to be seen with you.”
The 47-year-old says his voice of reason was Lance Stehr, the owner of Muthaland Entertainment, the record company that he is signed to, and his mother.
“The voice that was there even when the person was not present would be Lance’s voice.
“Lance was there in my head, telling me ‘you are drunk again’. He is the person I respect.”
Morabe says his mother, although she is far away in Klerksdorp in North West and does not understand much about the music industry, keeps him in check as well.
“It’s almost as if I’m starting from scratch because I have to prove myself again,” he says, adding that with new artists filling the gap he left, he has to show his fans that he still has what it takes to entertain them.
“It’s a fun experience, though, and I think what helps is the fact that I’ve been in the industry for 30 years.
“There are things that are not as difficult as when I was a new artist. “People know my name and my track record, plus the trust is still there from fans.”
Although he says the industry could treat artists better, he knows he will go on to achieve bigger things.