Apl.de.ap takes on Why U So Like Dat?

Home-grown rappers (from left) Shigga Shay, Najip Ali, Sheikh Haikel and TheLionCityBoy.
Home-grown rappers (from left) Shigga Shay, Najip Ali, Sheikh Haikel and TheLionCityBoy.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The Black Eyed Peas rapper joins home-grown hip-hop stars in the 1991 Singlish hit

Rapper Apl.de.ap from Grammy- winning hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas will revisit a Singapore rap classic with some of the country's best-known rappers at the Sing50 concert tomorrow.

They will take on the Singlish- heavy Why U So Like Dat? by now-defunct comedy group Kopi Kat Klan. Written by musician and funnyman Siva Choy, the track appeared on the group's hit 1991 album of the same name.

Apl.de.ap, 40, says in an e-mail interview: "I'm most excited about the rap because everyone knows it. I can't wait to see everyone's reaction, including that of my fellow artists. It's going to be so much fun, so everyone must join in and sing along."

Over the past four months, the Filipino-American has been working closely with home-grown rappers Sheikh Haikel, Najip Ali, Shigga Shay and TheLionCityBoy, who will perform with him at the show. They will be joined on stage by 14 aspiring rappers selected through auditions.

The Sing50 concert is organised by The Straits Times and The Business Times to celebrate the nation's Golden Jubilee.

  • ABOUT SING50

  • Organised by The Straits Times and TheBusiness Times to mark Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, the concert celebrates 50 years of songs and music composed, performed or made popular by Singapore performers and will include different languages and music genres.
    Mapletree Investments, Resorts World Sentosa andZurich Insurance are the main sponsors.
    The show is produced by The Rice Company and supported by Steinway Gallery Singapore.

  • VIEWIT/SING50

  • WHERE: National Stadium

    WHEN: Tomorrow. Pre-concert event at 5.30pm, concert from 7.30 to 9.30pm

    ADMISSION: All Sing50 tickets have been distributed.
    Ticket-holderswhoare not able to attend are encouraged to pass their tickets to those who can. For every person who attends, Zurich Insurance will donate $5 to The Straits Times School PocketMoney Fundand The Business Times Budding Artists Fund

    INFO: www.sing50concert.sg

  • • Traffic advisory: For drop-off and pick-up, please use Car Park 4 at Kallang Leisure Park. No waiting along the roads around Sports Hub is allowed.

Apl.de.ap, who arrived here yesterday, says he is ecstatic to be a part of Singapore's 50th birthday celebration.

He says: "50 comes only once and I get to be part of a major milestone. Coming home here to be among my South-east Asian peers excites me. My heart has become close to Singapore and I've got great friends here."

After kicking off their segment with Why U So Like Dat?, the artists will perform their own raps written specially for the show.

Haikel, 40, says: "What's unique about this item is that you get the whole journey of how hip-hop here started and where it is today. For us, it portrays how far hip-hop has come in Singapore."

He won regional talentime contest Asia Bagus in 1993 as part of the rap duo Construction Sight, which included Ashidiq Ghazali. The duo is one of the first rap groups here.

Singer and television host Najip, 49, who will perform Rentak Oonik from his 1995 Malay pop album Oonik, says: "When rap was in its early days back then, we were still looking for our identity."

With the English raps at Sing50 incorporating smatterings of Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, the four Singapore artists are determined to show their countrymen they have made hip-hop their own.

Haikel says: "At the start, hip-hop was a borrowed culture that came from the ghettos of America. What we did was borrow this culture and we've always tried to add Asian elements and values to it."

The Asian values include no swearing and there will be no swear words in the raps performed tomorrow, he adds.

Shigga Shay, whose real name is Pek Jin Shen, says: "From Najip to Haikel's time, each generation of songs is like a time capsule. We have added our own dialogue and dialects into our songs and made this borrowed culture unique to us."

The 23-year-old performed at the recent South-east Asian Games opening ceremony here and will release his debut full-length album on National Day.

For TheLionCityBoy, whose real name is Kevin Lester, working with the veterans has been a great learning experience.

"It's humbling to collaborate with Sheikh and Najip, who have played a part in Singapore's music history. The stories they share are about a time I did not know much about," says the 30-year-old, who has released three EPs and will launch a new single tomorrow.

Likewise, the veterans have only praise for the younger rappers. Haikel says: "Shigga and Kevin have broken their backs, man. To have boys of this calibre in Singapore - you got to be really proud of them."

The camaraderie among the four artists was apparent during the interview, as they traded jokes and engaged in banter.

Despite their different styles of rapping, they say they are confident of putting together a cohesive item on stage.

Najip says: "It'll come naturally. It's not so much about the beats we put into the songs, but more about the personality and charisma of each individual."

TheLionCityBoy adds: "When we sing these rap songs, it is no longer about who we are as individuals. It is a language that we speak and understand and we are one together.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2015, with the headline 'Apl.de.ap takes on Why U So Like Dat?'. Print Edition | Subscribe