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Hacker, DJ, Programmer, Shoe Designer: The Many Lives of Oaktopia Performer Emeka Ibe

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Emeka Ibe is surrounded by three 40-inch monitors, candy red JBL speakers and multiple, nearly-filled-to-capacity dry erase boards. “I wanted to be living proof that you can do anything,” he says, loading his audio production software.  

Over the past year, Ibe released a single and performed at the Oaktopia music festival in Denton to promote his debut EP. But the 27-year-old’s resume is not that of a typical musician’s. His interests outside of music range from computer programming to sneaker design. His new day job finds him senior UI/UX/frontend developer at a startup company, Audio Plug.

As a kid in Garland, Ibe found his computer savvy a blessing and a curse. “I basically hacked the [Garland Independent School District] web servers and networking client as a kind of test of skills. Then, created a superuser account and had free range to modify any site within the GISD system without parallel,” he says, casually. “I ended up obtaining a bunch of information I shouldn't have and that’s where the real issue came in. ... Legally, I could have been facing a lot of time.”

Ibe’s brother, Peter, watched his brother get increasingly nervous as he realized how deeply he was over his head. “Him and his friend thought they were just playing a prank,” Peter says. “But, I don’t think he fully understood what had happened or what information he obtained until it was too late.”

The district sent Ibe to an alternative school for 60 days and he “lost a few scholarships. There was no police record, but there was a write-up in the school paper,” he says. “Needless to say, I turned my life around from that day forward. I graduated college and landed dream jobs developing for the U.S. Treasury and also the Federal Reserve Banking Systems.” 

He left the banking tech business to join the startup. But Ibe has recently designed and prototyped his own high-end, multipurpose sneaker. The shoe’s name is The Plug, under his fashion brand Stlskins. “The brand has been growing with a few sales,” Ibe says.

With all these competing interests, music is still on his radar. His Soundcloud page has a song just one month old. “Music is a passion that I’ve always enjoyed,” he says. “For me, it’s about the connection that I can attain with other people. We all have similar experiences.”

“I was told as a child that I was a philosopher,” he says. “And it kinda stuck.” 

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