Artiste Sheikh Haikel And His Big Comeback

My childhood was filled with love, and with love came a lot of pain. I didn’t come from a broken home but I did have an abusive father. I learnt how to be protective by being a brother to my sister. When we were getting punished, I would stand in front of the hanger or belt and take the blow.

My grandfather went to study law with Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Tunku Abdul Rahman. They were the first three in Asia to study law. My grandfather and uncle both became very famous lawyers in Singapore. When I got into trouble, the authorities would contact them. Naturally, I too wanted to be a lawyer.

I’ve loved rap since I was nine. My mom bought me a Run DMC tape by accident. A week before that, Gladys Knight and The Pips broke up. My mom thought The Pips had gone solo. She was at Parkway Parade, saw this tape with three black men on it and bought it for me. When she came home, she popped it into the cassette player. She heard the music and said, “This is not The Pips.” “I know, mummy but what is this? I like it,” I replied.

I met Lincoln (Cheng), the owner of Zouk, when I was 14. Because of my history with Zouk, the club was given to me as a venue for my album launches in very easy fashion. I’ve seen all the changes the club has gone through. I remember during those days, everyone was in polka-dotted shirts and dancing to Madonna’s “Vogue.”

I first visited the Asia Bagus set as a member of the audience. Najip Ali, the host and my good friend, had suggested we become a part of the audience since we had to wait for him to finish anyway. They used to pay you $10 for being a member of the audience for one episode. And in one day, they would record three episodes. That’s $30. When you’re fifteen years old, that’s a lot.

I was spotted by this guy from Pony Canyon (one of Japan’s leading record companies) at the lobby of the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (now MediaCorp). A friend and I were waiting for Najip to change out of his wardrobe and this guy saw me and asked his translator who I was. He asked me if I could rap and sing and asked me to freestyle for him right there and then. I did, and he invited us to join the Asia Bagus contest. That’s how we ended up winning the Grand Championship.

Everything that I know now about the respect for the stage and your fellow artistes is from Najip, Kumar and Chris Ho. These are my three “mothers and fathers.”

Can I do anything else? I don’t think so. I only know how to do this. I don’t know what it’s like to work for anyone else and I don’t know what it’s like to get constant pay.

I think love is a forgotten value in Singapore. It’s so stressful in this country; everyone keeps to themselves. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but I believe in love. It is through love that my new album was launched.

If you’re a man and you’ve got one person to love you, you’re a made man. I have 10 solid people who love me to death. I’m made.