‘Diversification’ is the buzzword that’s making the rounds among millennials today. Being a one-trick pony simply doesn’t cut it anymore, for professionals in any line of work.
These days, singers act, actors write and the list goes on. Even professional athletes are cutting their teeth in industries like film and music production, while still toiling away on the field or on the court.
Enter Hassan B K, better known by his stage name H!zzy. Although the Singaporean rapper has been honing his craft since the tender age of 12, he too has diversified in recent years, dabbling in business management and art, amongst other endeavours.
Despite his successes, asking any average Singaporean on the street whether he’s heard of H!zzy would probably result in ‘no’ as a response.
This lack of evident popularity is fine with the 27-year-old, even stating that promoting himself aggressively now would probably backfire and leave a bad impression with his fans.
However, he did admit that he was toying with the idea, saying “I want to try it but I’m on the fence because how much can you get per show? $10,000? Even then you’d have to play at more popular events like the F1 Grand Prix”.
He might be on the fence, but Hassan clearly still has a passion for making music, releasing his latest single Andele two months ago, with a music video now in the works and a promotional clip on his Instagram page that will elicit more than a few chuckles from even the most stone-faced individual.
No Popularity? No Problem
Looking back, Hassan muses that he’s hardly surprised his popularity in Singapore hasn’t skyrocketed compared to contemporaries like ShiGGa Shay or Axel Brizzy.
He revealed that user counts from Malaysia and even the U.S outstrip listeners from our little red dot on Spotify. “I was always under the impression that the majority of my listeners were from Singapore so I have no idea what’s going on actually”, he adds with a laugh.
However, he added that he prefers promoting and performing in the region rather than locally, finding the music scene overseas vastly different and one that he finds a lot more enjoyable.
At home, Hassan’s business ventures has taken priority, after realising that he could only gain more control over his music and brand with the right connections and capital to do so. One example was opening a production house instead of a record label, explaining that the ability to produce both music and visuals allowed for greater business opportunities and flexibility.
This business acumen would extend to other areas as well, such as his current stint as a Creative Director in renovation portal Renopedia. He has even secured distribution rights for a couple of sports and lifestyle brands as well, mentioning that it actually works out better than the endorsement deals people commonly associate celebrities with.
Trials And Tribulations
However, it wasn’t always this smooth-sailing for the artiste. He ran into several setbacks throughout the years, chief of which was a court case right as he was about to graduate from his studies in Republic Polytechnic.
Fortunately, he was let off with a two-year-long probation which he served while undergoing National Service.
On the business end of things, there was an occasion where the Midas touch eluded him, with an investment for an event over a year ago costing him $13,000.
“I was presented with a foolproof proposal but things didn’t work out; corners were cut and other things happened. I’ve only been repaid around $2000 since then”, he says.
However, he has taken it in his stride, highlighting that he has learnt much via both good investments and bad ones. He even views his experience with a touch of humour, saying “I haven’t really had the time to reflect on this. Normally when people ask me something, it’ll be about my next single. When’s my next single? Listen to my last one la!”
“We Just Warmin’ Up”
Despite his immense success as an entrepreneur, the one investment that Hassan proudly remembers till today was helping to crowdfund the construction of a science center and observatory in Malaysia.
“It wasn’t an investment that made the most money but it was the most fun one I took part in so far. I don’t really feel proud of the others even though they’ve made much more money,” he says.
He even mentions that part of the science center has been named after him, so for the fans in Malaysia, happy hunting!
Even so, the homegrown talent is more down to earth than you’d imagine, having a veteran’s perspective on many issues surrounding celebrityhood and Singapore’s music scene.
He candidly mentions how proving people wrong was the main source of motivation as a budding rapper years ago but realised later on that there’ll be criticism no matter how much success he achieved.
He took a different stance from that point on, saying “I wasted a lot of time and money trying to do that and I learnt the hard way that you don’t need to prove anyone wrong, as long as you prove that you’re right to yourself”.
He also lets on that the music scene here is less glamorous than it looks, revealing that only a small percentage of artistes are rolling in the dough, with a good number of them having to put on a front.
“You can fool the audience but you can’t fool people who’re behind the scenes like your fellow artistes and other industry insiders”, he warned.