Shabeel, meaning “leopard” in Somali, was born Alexandru-Iustinian Serbanescu in Bucharest, Romania in 1988. Musically, his childhood consisted of listening to records and fairytales on his aunty and mother's turntable, listening to his father play the piano and singing in the school choir.
Moving to Canada at the age of fourteen was an experience of equal significance for Shabeel. Adopted by the city of Montreal, he had to build his identity with his own two hands and he took a little something from everyone he came across. Somalia, Algeria, Jamaica, Haiti - and more - are part of him and embedded in his being.
Shabeel has an ear for music, and languages are music, so Shabeel's musical language was chosen to be Jamaican. What started out as imitating Tupac and writing raps at the age of fifteen became a life of injecting beautiful fantasy into already beautiful Jamaican culture. He didn't choose reggae, but he was chosen for it and reggae was chosen for him. The reasons for which this is so remain mysterious to this day.
It is said that people who leave their homeland are forever tormented by an interior exile and are no longer able to feel at home anywhere they find themselves. Even as a nomad, Shabeel was lucky enough to find a permanent home in reggae music. The talent to show images of truth through his music, which he believes is a gift from the great Maternal Presence, has provided a sanctuary for him and his followers.
Combining the melancholy of the gypsy with a sweet Jamaican style, Shabeel's music strives to be true and beautiful above anything else. It is an impossible task to properly list his sources of inspiration, but marked by artists such as Mariza, Dan Draghici, Dan Anghel, Joan Baez, Vybz Kartel, Ninjaman, Tupac, Mitchy Slick, Skepta, Bob Marley, and even political figures such as Michael Manley and writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Shabeel makes music for the healing of the soul and finding of true happiness.