Singaporean hip-hop artiste Alif is still sleek after leaving Sleeq

Alif Sleeq. Photo: The Star/Yap Chee Hong

For about a decade, hip-hop artiste and producer Muhammad Alif Abdullah was such a part of musical duo Sleeq, he was often referred to as Alif Sleeq.

Alif and his cousin Syarif, who are both from Singapore, started Sleeq in 2005 and went on to produce numerous hits, notably, Sesaat Kau Datang with the popular 1980s singer Ramlah Ram and Untuk Dia with YouTube sensation Najwa Latif. “We really wanted to make music. We didn’t care if we were successful or not,” he enthuses.

“When we did our National Service in 2011 for two years, from Monday to Friday, we would be in Singapore. The moment we checked out on Friday, we’d be here in Malaysia, and we flew back on Sunday night. We were really committed to this music thing.”

Today, Alif is just as committed, if not more, carving his path as a solo artiste and producer after leaving Sleeq in 2015.

He simply goes by Alif now. More than just a name change, Alif is reinventing himself and his music.

The 29-year-old released his first single as a solo act, Buat Selamanya, last year and recently dropped a collaborative single with SonaOne, Obvious.

The two are working together on a full joint album, slated for release next year.

1. Why did you leave Sleeq?

The plan on being a duo was 10 years, and then that would be it. As cousins, we spent our whole lives around each other. We started (the group) around 2005 and we’ve been living, eating and working in the studio together as a duo.

We felt we needed a time limit so we can figure out what we can achieve as individuals. That’s important for growth. I’m glad we were mature about it when the time came.

Alif2. Why did it take you so long to come up with new material?

The period between 2015 and 2017, I was trying to find myself. When we were Sleeq, I learned how important it was to brand ourselves. When I ventured out on my own, I had to do the same thing for myself, figure out what I wanted to do and catch a sound.

So, I’ve been experimenting and putting stuff out online until I finally found my sound. I released Buat Selamanya late last year.

3. Were you afraid of launching a solo career?

I was a bit afraid. I’ve never introduced myself as a solo performer. Also, I didn’t intend to come back as a performer initially. I was really in tune with the producer life for a while and I was happy with it. I got to dictate my own schedule. But I love music and I’ll do anything for it.

4. You just came out of a duo and now you’re doing a joint album with SonaOne. Are you worried you may be branded as part of another duo?

We put in effort to let people know that this is a collaborative effort (as opposed to a duo). I wouldn’t be able to help what people might think about it. I’m taking time to explore myself whether as an artiste or a producer. I’m taking on all sorts of projects including collaborations.

I introduced myself as a solo artiste on Buat Selamanya, I’m doing this collaboration now, and after that, I go back to my solo stuff.

5. How did you and SonaOne first meet?

We met more than 10 years ago when Sleeq first started. The Malaysian and Singaporean hip-hop community was very close. There were only about 20 of us. We’d travel to each other’s place and sleep on couches and floors. We still have that connection today. In fact, it feels like it was just yesterday.

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