The local rapper signed to independent record label Osem Inc. opens up about shedding the ghosts of his past to focus on the gift of the present.

“I was caught in a scandal earlier this year after my ex reported that I abused her. She posted the incident on social media and it blew up. Even Wake Up Singapore picked it up. I got bashed online as the ‘upcoming rapper who abused his girlfriend’.

The next day, I woke up to so much hate online. I was affected to the point where I relapsed and turned to my old vices. The news was so big that even my MP was looking at my IG stories, and even the Chinese newspaper wanted to hear my side of the story.

I didn’t talk to the media because they could portray what I share with them differently. I didn’t want my words to be twisted or altered. So what I did was post an IG story saying that I’ll go live at this time and on this date, and I’ll address the issue then.

The night before I went live, her mom called and asked if I was going to bash her daughter. I said no, because at the end of the day, I still loved her daughter. To this very today, I cannot get into another relationship, but we’ll never get back together. We’re just bad for each other.

When I did the IG live, I had never seen such numbers and views before. My lips were pale, but I admitted that I laid my hands on her, and I’m sorry for that. I wasn’t saying sorry to the public – I don’t care about them. I’m sorry only to her and her mom for all the pain I caused.

To this very day, there are still people who call me ‘girl abuser’ and ask if I’m the one who beat the girl. If you think that’s funny or treat this like a joke, I’m already past this. I find it lame. Most of these come from fake TikTok and IG accounts, so it’s nothing to me anymore.

I do not condone violence towards women, and I understand why the online community reacted the way they did. But, people do not know the full story, and it’s not their business to know any more than what I – or anyone involved – would like to share.

I would love to tell the story of my life in my rap. I think it would be very raw. But as Thambi Natta the artist, I’ve not reached that level where I’m ready to show my more emotional side. I’m not ready to reveal Shafiq, who is the real me.

I’ve been through a lot. When I was younger, I was motivated to be someone else. I had that wolfpack mentality and my friends always came first. I was involved in gangs and all that. At 18, I went to prison for rioting and drug consumption. I was in for two years, eight months.

While I was serving my sentence, my sister bought me a lot of self-help books. My favourite book was The Power of Now by this writer called Eckhart Tolle. He explained that the future and past are not tangible. The only thing that’s here is the present.

I shared this with my brothers at the Reformative Training Centre, and they had no idea what I was talking about. They shouted at me from the windows of their own prison cells, saying things like, ‘Eh lan ji*o, what the fu*k are you talking about lah?’ It was really funny.

It’s been about three years since I came out of RTC. In those three years, there were ups and downs. I had a very bad experience with my previous record label, not to mention this whole situation with my ex. I relapsed and went back to drinking, clubbing and fighting.

But these days, I surround myself with the right people. I’m working as a loan broker and I’m also one of three local artists under Osem Inc, which is an independent record label. I’m working hard on my music, writing raps and producing beats. I barely sleep sometimes.

I’m not better than my old friends or anyone else, but how can I be focusing on my music and still get enough rest if I’m still out at the clubs partying and drinking? You need to find your circle who will help enhance your focus. These people are my coping mechanism.

The knowledge I gained from reading those self-books taught me that becoming a better person was a possibility for me. It’s whether I want it for myself or not. I still think about my past, but I remind myself to move on. Don’t carry the past like luggage. It can be very tiring.

The past has happened, and the future is not here yet. The only thing that’s within your control is now. So live in the moment, and make it happen for yourself.” – Thambi Natta, 24

Interview by: Arman Shah