Wee Meng Chee
6 May 1983
Muar, Johor, Malaysia
|Alma mater||Ming Chuan University|
|Occupation||Rapper, singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker, actor|
|Height||169 cm (5 ft 7 in)|
|Genres||Hip hop, C-pop|
|Wee Meng Chee|
Wee Meng Chee (born 6 May 1983) is a Malaysian Chinese hip hop recording artist, composer, filmmaker and actor. He is widely known by his stage name Namewee, a bilingual pun on his first name, which sounds like the Mandarin term for name (Chinese: 名字; pinyin: míngzi).
Wee gained popularity after releasing a controversial song titled Negarakuku, a remake of the national anthem of Malaysia, Negaraku. The word kuku resembles the male reproductive organ in Chinese Hokkien dialect. In the weeks following the song's release, it drew criticism from Malaysian society. Despite the controversy surrounding Negarakuku, Wee released his first, self-titled EP, Namewee (Chinese: 明志), in Malaysia on 3 September 2007. The album was completed in May and does not contain Negarakuku.
In early 2010, he released his first film titled Nasi Lemak 2.0. Subsequently, he released Hantu Gangster and Kara King, which were released in 2012 and 2013 respectively. He also started a talk show series on YouTube, Namewee Tokok, in September 2012. He was nominated for the Best Male Vocal Mandarin award at the Golden Melody Award in 2016 and 2017. In August 2016, he was arrested by police for filming a music video, featuring performers dressed as religious leaders going about a church, a mosque and a Chinese temple, which allegedly insulted the dignity of Islam.
He first gained mainstream popularity with his song You're Not Red (Chinese: 你不紅). In subsequent years, several other songs also gained global attention, such as Thai Love Song (Chinese: 泰國情哥), High Pitch (Chinese: 飆高音) Stranger In The North (Chinese: 漂向北方) and Tokyo Bon 2020 (Japanese: 東京盆踊り2020). Currently, over 60 of his tracks (including those which have been removed from his YouTube channel) have over 1 million views.
Born and raised up in the town of Muar, Johor, Malaysia, Wee was educated in SRJK Chung Hwa 1B and Chung Hwa High School. He was an undergraduate student majoring in Mass communication at Ming Chuan University in Taoyuan, Taiwan.
While in secondary school, he wrote his first 400 songs. Around the same time, Wee and a few good friends formed a band named Aunt Band (Chinese:大娘乐队) and won several competitions. He had also released several songs, along with complementary music videos on YouTube, which include Muar's Mandarin (Chinese: 麻坡的华语) and Kawanku (Malay: My friends), the latter being a critical song directed at Malaysian Chinese, Malays and Singaporeans.
Wee's sudden rise to stardom is a result of his highly controversial piece Negarakuku, his parody of the Malaysia national anthem Negaraku, released on YouTube in July 2007 when he was studying in Taiwan.
The song consists of two major components: rapping, which is exclusively composed and performed by Wee, and Negaraku, which is split into three segments between the rapping and sung out in groups of two or three verses. While the national anthem sung in an R&B style, Wee had no intention of altering the melody and lyrics of the anthem and had tried to retain the anthem's original theme and meaning. The arrangement used by Wee follows original arrangement of the anthem, which the Malaysian government had since altered three times. The rap was in Mandarin, with occasional Hokkien phrases and words, while verses of the national anthem are sung in their original Malay form.
In the beginning of the song, Wee dedicates the song to "all Malaysians, especially the Government". Negarakuku covers elements of daily lives in Malaysia from Wee's perspective, including police's corruption, inefficient public services and biased government policies. In particular, his song refers to Muslims' call for the earliest of their five daily prayers as a "morning call" which would wake him up at 5 a.m. and sound like a love song ululating in an R&B fashion. Moreover, the song points to the alleged laid-back lifestyle of Malays, who are mostly Muslims, referring to them as people who "cover their heads, walk and cross the road slowly".
The music video for the song features several elements including a montage of photographs of Malaysia, Visit Malaysia 2007 and the backdrop of a Malaysian flag. It ends with a Chinese caption thanking unnamed parties for videos and images for the montage, and an English/Malay caption pleading viewers not to sue him as he has no money. The video was removed by Wee amid pressure on 23 July 2007, but copies of the video, including one with English and Malay subtitles translated from Chinese lyrics, are still available on the site. The videos received an average of over 100,000 hits, but a duplicate version of Wee's original video, uploaded in the middle of July 2007, received a total of 1.4 million hits as of early September 2007. The original video was however re-uploaded on 22 December 2015.
Public reaction towards the song is mixed. Immediate reactions in the form of YouTube comments range from being approval, support, critical, attacks and threats towards Wee, to racist remarks directed towards both Chinese and Malay people in general. Official criticism of the song was primarily centred on the song's anti-government undertones, which resulted in comments by members of the Malaysian parliament to take action against him. However, as Wee was in a foreign country, he was out of Malaysia's jurisdiction.
Accusation of disrespect towards Islam and Malay people were brought up by Malay tabloid Harian Metro, claiming that Wee's song had mocked Islam and the mindset of Malay people. Wee disputes this claim by stating that the paper, as well as several Malaysian news channels, fail to objectively report facts, resulting in misunderstandings of his song. His comments were further directed at Metro, claiming that the paper did not understand the implicit meaning of his song's lyrics before concluding its nature. He added the paper had not provided any translations of the song, sung in Mandarin and Hokkien not being widely used among the Malay-speaking community, resulting in their dependence on local media channels for interpretations of the song.
In a telephone interview from Taiwan on 9 August 2007, Wee clarified that the song was merely reflecting satirical social commentary of life for a local Chinese as himself in Malaysia, and its humorous remarks were solely for the pleasure of the Chinese community. Wee posted a blog entry typed in both Malay and Traditional Chinese on 12 August, in an attempt to clarify the nature of his song and its lyrics.
On 14 August 2007 (and later, on 16 August on his blog), Wee issued a public apology to the government and Malaysians who found it offensive. While the Malaysian Chinese Association accepted Wee's apology with Zainuddin Maidin, Malaysia's Minister of Information, urging Malaysians to do the same, the cabinet rejected Wee's apology; Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz added that "the law will take its course." Other actions voiced by the government include bringing Wee to court, probably under the Sedition Act, as he had insulted the symbol of the nation, and further action against YouTube.
On 21 August 2007, the Home Minister issued a gag order on all mainstream media to cease reporting on Wee. No major presses or television channels in Malaysia has covered Wee or Negarakuku since then.
Following his return to Malaysia in 2008 to celebrate National Day on 31 August, Wee was summoned by the Royal Malaysian Police to attend a questioning on 23 September. After the interview, Wee claimed that the police wanted to close the file on the matter and that he did not think that there would be any action taken against him. However, the police later stated Wee was being investigated under the Sedition Act and the matter would be referred to the Deputy Public Prosecutor.
Other notable works
A small controversy erupted when a three-part video Teacher Hew's ABC Time (Chinese: 邱老師 ABC 時間), directed by Wee was released. In the video, a close friend of Wee, known as teacher Hew, introduces the English alphabet from an adult-oriented perspective. It soon became notorious from its heavy use of profanity as well as orgasm sounds, and the board of directors of Chung Hwa High School decided to sue Wee, as the video was filmed in the school compound, but the lawsuit was later dropped.
In July 2009, Namewee composed the theme and ending songs for the latest Singaporean film 'Where Got Ghost?' which was released on 13 August 2009.
Namewee also made a video clip in the late of October 2009, titled Namewee fuck TNB. In the video, Namewee's house and Muar suffer a blackout at night, but the local TNB (Tenaga Nasional Berhad) branch office remains lit, while his brother is sitting for the examinations the following day, so Wee goes to TNB to look for answers, but the ensuing quarrel leads the security guards to escort him out of the facility. After that, Wee scolds TNB and tells them to 'go back to sleep'. The ending song is dedicated to attacking TNB, parodically insulting 'TNB' ('Tenaga Nasional Berhad') as "Tiu Nia Bu", foul language in Hokkien.
On 26 August 2010, Wee made a music video titled Nah! 2010 posting on YouTube criticising a school principal in Kulaijaya, who was reported to have made racist remarks during a school assembly on 12 August 2010. The clip contained obscene language condemning the school principal and the Education Ministry. However, Wee was asked to give a statement in Kuala Lumpur police station and also Cyberjaya Investigation Unit for two times later.
In September 2010, he published another video I Am Who I Am (Chinese: 我還是我), depicting his past experiences and determination to pursue his dream with no return despite having obstacles.
In October 2010, Namewee was officially invited to attend the world-famous Busan International Film Festival in South Korea.
In September 2011, a public service announcement video titled Undilah, encouraging Malaysian citizens to vote, was released by Pete Teo. Namewee composed part of the music and rap lyrics as well as appearing in the video, featuring various other local celebrities and politicians.
After the success of Nasi Lemak 2.0 and Petaling Street Warriors, Namewee started off with his another directorial work, Hantu Gangster. The film was filmed in Klang and was released on 9 August 2012.
On 25 September 2012, he officially launched an online talk show entitled Namewee Tokok, hoping through this program, the Malaysian could have a different perspective on viewing various issues and news in Malaysia as the mass media of the country was consolidated by the government.
On 22 April 2017, Namewee uploaded a song on YouTube named 18X PAPAPA (Chinese: 18X禁歌啪啪啪), reaching more than 8 million views in 2 months and becoming the 2nd most popular song to the group of 7–12 years old students according to research. Namewee's fans commented that although the song was only for 18+, they enjoyed it and kept replaying the song.
To remember the 10th anniversary on 20 May 2017 since he started uploading his songs on YouTube, Namewee released a music video titled Muar Mandarin 2017 Official MV (Chinese: 麻坡的華語10週年紀念版), featuring various places including the Wetex, 8th avenue, etc., in his birthplace Muar, a city in Johor, Malaysia. It was an instant hit, reaching more than one million views on YouTube in one month.
Collaboration with other artists
Namewee featured one of Asia's top superstars Wang Leehom in a song titled Stranger In The North (Chinese: 漂向北方), which was released on YouTube on 4 March 2017. As of 30 September 2018, the video has garnered more than 135 million views, the highest that Wee has ever achieved in producing and composing the song. It describes the life of migrant workers in Beijing, and is also a reflection of his personal journey in making a name for himself in Taiwan when he started out.
On 21 October 2017, he published another music video with the same title Stranger in The North, a KTV version featuring Hong Kong singer-songwriter and actress G.E.M. It has also received widespread popularity and amassed over 25 million views by end of September 2018.
Wee also featured Japanese actress and singer Meu Ninomiya (Japanese: 二宮芽生) in a song titled Tokyo Bon 2020 (Japanese: 東京盆踊り2020), which was released on YouTube on 19 November 2017 and has garnered more than 30 million views in less than a year. Written and composed by Namewee in collaboration with Cool Japan TV, the video combines the elements of traditional Japanese instruments, Okinawa music style and Bon dance with foreign music, describing a clueless Asian tourist wandering on the streets of Tokyo and his amusing interaction with a Japanese high school girl who speaks Japanglish.
In collaboration with the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, Wee produced a video titled Fun Taipei Funny Ads on 25 August 2018, introducing viewers to Taipei travels and featuring Amoi-Amoi, a girl group composed of ET Wang from Taiwan, and May Ng, Stella Chen and ShaoQi from Malaysia.
Detention and arrest
On 2 August 2016, it was reported that Penang police were planning to arrest him as soon as he returned from a trip abroad over a potential charge stemmed from his controversial music video Oh my God that allegedly insulted Islam. Prior to his detention, Namewee published a video on YouTube on 21 August 2016 titled Surrender, depicting himself stripping naked (with his genitals censored) to show that he has no visible or existing injuries prior to his detention.
As planned, police detained him upon his arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 21 August 2016 and remanded him in the following day after the magistrates' court granted a remand order for four days to investigate the case under Section 295 of the Penal Code for injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion. On 25 August 2016, Namewee was freed on bail after the magistrates' court had refused to extend his arrest in view of his suffering from stomach ulcers.
On 22 February 2018, Namewee was retained by police for a day to facilitate investigations on his music video Like a Dog, in which he and other individuals allegedly dance indecently in front of Putra Mosque, the principal mosque of Putrajaya, Malaysia.
|2011||Nasi Lemak 2.0
|2011||Petaling Street Warriors
|2016||The Big Power|
|2017||Old Town Story|
|2019||Friend Zone||Bellboy||Cameo role, Thai film|
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- "Namewee arrested over controversial CNY video".
- Namewee at hkmdb.com
- Namewee at chinesemov.com
- 我的名字叫明志, Wee Meng Chee's blog ‹See Tfd›(in Chinese)
- on 's channelYouTube
- Namewee website by NameWee Production, Taipei
- Vote for Wee Meng Chee fansite
- Original music video (reuploaded on Namewee's channel on December 22 2015)
- Negarakuku on YouTube ‹See Tfd›(in Chinese) (with English subtitles, and with Malay subtitles)
- 7 Edition news snippet from ntv7 on YouTube, featuring Syed Hamid Albar, Malaysia's Foreign Minister, commenting Wee's matter will not be taken lightly and an apology will not be accepted.
- 7 Edition news snippet from ntv7 on YouTube, featuring a statement by Fu Ah Kiow, Malaysia's Deputy Internal Security Minister, on "negative elements" in Wee's song.