Malaysian rapper and filmmaker Namewee had such a good experience shooting his new music video “Funny Action” in Singapore with local director Jack Neo earlier this year that he is hoping he can shoot his new movie in the city-state.
“It’s a good place to take picture[s] and shoot [a] music video, because it’s clean. Our art department don’t have to clean all the roads or the grass [of] garbage… because it’s very clean. I hope I can shoot my movie here,” he said in an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore on Wednesday (13 December).
When asked whether the film could be controversial, the singer-director-actor, who first gained notoriety 10 years ago for a remixed version of the Malaysian national anthem on YouTube, replied, “I don’t think so. It’s about real life.”
Namewee, whose real name is Wee Meng Chee, has sometimes gotten in trouble for his candid take on Malaysian politics and society. His movie “Banglasia”, which was completed in 2013, was banned in his home country. Last year, he was arrested following complaints that his 2016 music video “Oh My God” insulted Islam, although charges have since been dropped.
In town for press interviews leading up to the second stop of his 4896 World Tour in Singapore in February 2018, the YouTube star said he is more commercial than controversial. His “Oh My God” video, which featured him rapping in front of places of worship around Malaysia, was intended to promote religious harmony, he said.
“I try to express myself because online platforms like YouTube are a place with freedom of speech. I think everyone should listen to other people with different opinion[s], but some people cannot accept (different opinions) so they go and report (the video), and that’s why I got arrested,” he explained. “I think that’s not my fault.”
Power of the internet
It is important to the singer for people to remember he came from a generation that grew up with the free-wheeling internet.
“Asia is quite a conservative place, so I hope everyone can remember I’m the person who makes music with freedom of speech, freedom of thinking, as an Asian,” he said.
The theme of his world tour is 4896, which is Hokkien slang used colloquially in Malaysia for someone who is very “strong and powerful”, because he wants audiences “to see the power of the internet”.
Singapore will be his second pit stop in the tour following the Taipei leg late last month, which he said he was very happy with because of the crowds. Significantly, next year’s performance in Singapore will be his first solo concert in the city-state since he uploaded his first video ten years ago.
It will also come after the warm reception to “Funny Action”, which co-stars Neo. Since being uploaded two weeks ago, the music video has received over 1.3 million views and has been trending on YouTube. At the very least, there’s one thing he can look forward to when he returns to Singapore: eating chicken rice.
“Malaysian chicken rice is also very delicious, but in Malaysia it’s the chicken that’s delicious. In Singapore, it’s the rice, it’s very delicious. I always come here, must eat the chicken rice,” he said.
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