Who's The Real Namewee
I.M. chats with Namewee in the December issue. Read the interview here.
The media have painted him as ‘anti-government’; some call him a racist and attention seeking; members of parliament want him in jail; while others think he’s pure genius. He shot to stardom with his infamous Youtube video “Negarakuku”(2007), and since then there have been other notable works (with their notable brushes with authorities). His first movie, Nasi Lemak 2.0 (Sept 2011) is a success, and Namewee’s high in demand these days, all the way to Singapore. Love him or hate him? You’ve got to respect him for speaking his mind. We met the REAL Namewee, a humble and soft-spoken (GASP!), average guy.
Tell us about your family and growing up in Muar.
I come from an ordinary family. I studied in a Chinese primary school and a private Chinese secondary school. I later attended university in Taiwan doing Mass Communication.
How did your background make you who you are today?
Actually, there isn’t much of an influence. I’m who I am because of my personality. My family is very open, and they gave me a lot of room to explore. They have been very supportive in what I’ve been doing.
What sparked your interest in music? And how did you start rapping?
My dad loves karaoke. Ever since I was young, he would bring me along to sing. Back then it wasn’t like your usual KTV lounge; it was a pub with a stage. I started to like singing from there on.
When I started writing songs a while back, I realized if I wanted to express more thoughts, rapping would be the best way to do it. I don’t have to think too much, and just let the words flow. Actually I don’t rap too much, I also do a lot of other genres. But a lot of people like my raps.
Who are your musical influences?
When I was younger, I was crazy about Nirvana, because they were original. I’m older than they are now because he [Kirk Cobain] died many years ago. It wasn’t their music that influenced me a lot, it was their spirit, and that’s very important.
You are often misunderstood by the media; labeled as anti-government, a racist etc. Is there any truth in it, and does it make you mad?
I’ve been simply and non-factually written about for four years, and I’m used to it by now. They would just write about something when they hear of it, without even clarifying it with me first. I think that’s a problem, when gossips become news, it’s not professional. I’ve studied this field myself, so I know that is not the way to write about things. When I first started, I produced all the songs myself. And the lyrics would be in Mandarin. People would start translating them into Malay and English, but then some of the meaning would get lost when they do that. And that makes all the difference, and hence the misunderstandings that happen later. But, sometimes, people intentionally write ‘wrongly’ about me, as if there’s some hidden agenda, and I don’t know what it is.
Find out more as Namewee talks to us about his music and even the story behind his beanies in our the full interview in our December issue!