Singapore’s best known rapper is heading to Singapore Day this year. Sheikh Haikel’s his name and hip-hop’s his game!
If you’re old enough, you might remember Sheikh as the winner of talent competition, Asia Bagus almost two decades ago. The then 16-year-old won the star-search programme that was positioned to promote young up-and-coming performing artists in Asia. Now, the 37-year-old is a father of two, “happily married and going into the 12th year”. His wife is actress-singer, Anna Belle Francis.
So what has Sheikh been up to lately on the showbiz circuit?
“I’ve launched my 4th album, my single just came out and I will be performing it for them there (in New York). I’m excited to do that one!” he exclaims. His excitement may also be because his upcoming trip is almost like a ‘homecoming’. He was himself an Overseas Singaporean up until 2004, when he studied in New York.
Since his return to Singapore from the US and after a short stint in Australia, he professes to be “a more ardent Singaporean”.
“Why I’m now a more ardent Singaporean is because having travelled all over the world, I love my home very much. I really love this country for what it has achieved and for what it is going to achieve. I see the future and I think this (country) is going to be the hub for many things,” he says with firmness and conviction, without a crystal ball in his hands.
There are many reasons why he loves this nation and people, he says. “Because I’ve invested my life here, my time here, I’ve found my inspiration here, my muse here. This country has been really good to me,” he shares with a glow on his face.
“Singapore has reached a status and it only goes up from here. To play this metropolitan game, to be able to hang it tight with the top countries and cities of the world, Singapore is there man! I’m glad I’m still here. It is the people that make Singapore Singapore, that give it that extra edge. I’m a very proud Singaporean. I hope to share and exuberate this when I go to New York for Singapore Day. I’d live and die for my people man, for real!”
But what’s real is that Sheikh and his music are synonymous, just like hip hop and Brooklyn — where Singapore Day will be held. “New York being the heart of hip hop, that’s where it came about — Brooklyn. So I’m actually going back to the Mecca of hip hop. What I’m bringing is a flavour of Singapore hip hop. Hip hop is a borrowed culture but with our essence of Singapore and with Asian values, it makes it a cut above the rest.”
Sheikh won’t be rousing the crowd at Prospect Park all by himself. He’ll be accompanied by the sounds of Samba band, Bloco Singapura.
“Aren’t they just a great representation of us now — the noise, the blend, the sound that they bring? (They are) a good example of one who has borrowed a culture, the Samba culture, and has given that Singaporean ‘twang’ to it. I’ve done shows with Bloco in Singapore and they’re a great addition to the trip. We’ve got a good set!” and Sheikh knows it.
“I can’t wait to you see you all! We’re coming to share the day with you and we’ve got a good show lined up! We’re going to have a very good time together,” he assures.
The final shout-out that Sheikh would like to make to Singaporeans registered for Singapore Day is: “Would anyone like to place orders? Prata? Mee Siam? I’m the food man! Pre-orders are open now.”
Thanks Sheikh for the offer to play deliveryman, but there’s a reason why the hawkers are going to be down in New York too.
By Stanley Leong