Taiwan-based Malaysian singer Namewee celebrated his 40th birthday on Saturday with a throwback snap of his 20-year-old self, and reflections on his pre-fame days.
In the photo, Namewee – whose real name is Wee Meng Chee – appears to be working in a construction site while wearing a hard hat and harness.
In the essay accompanying the caption, the singer wrote in Chinese that at the time the photo was taken, “(I was in Taiwan) working and studying, saving money to make music, writing hundreds of songs, nobody had ever heard of...”
He wrote about the variety of jobs he took on – from salesman to waiter – in order to buy musical equipment and record a demo.
“I burnt the recorded demo to CD, copied the addresses of at least 20 or 30 well-known and unknown record companies in Taiwan, and then took the CD from door to door on a motorcycle to deliver it to them. I did it so many times, year after year ... but still nobody cared ....” he added.
After five years and moving house five times, his big break came when “YouTube was born”.
Namewee said that as someone born under the Taurus astrological star sign, he is stubborn – but added that this same stubbornness has kept him going. “(Now at 40 years old) I will try to make myself a better person and treat the people around me sincerely.”
The singer has had an eventful last few years. In December 2020, a police report was filed against him in his native Malaysia over his film, Babi.
The controversial 2020 movie is about racial tension and hate speech, and allegedly contained elements of racism that tarnished Malaysia’s image.
In March 2021, he was flagged by the Malaysian authorities upon his return from Taiwan and taken to the airport’s police station for questioning.
He stayed on in Malaysia until July 2021, but the matter remained unresolved when he returned to Taiwan to continue working on projects. He put out the hit song Fragile, a biting satire on China, which saw him being blacklisted there in October 2021.
He returned to Malaysia in January 2022, saying an arrest warrant against him had been lifted. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network