Hip-hop and politics in Asia

Indonesian Rapper ‘Twitter attacked’ by former ambassador . . . 

Indonesia’s former ambassador to the United States has sparked controversy by criticizing Rich Brian, a 19-year-old Jakarta-born rapper on Twitter. Brian was the first Asian rapper to top iTunes’ hip-hop chart and was picked as one of Forbes Asia’s ‘30 under 30’ for his influence among millennials. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, however, has capitalized on the rapper’s stardom. Earlier this month he hosted Rich Brian at his presidential residence and then tweeted that he is a “young man from Indonesia that makes us proud.”

Political rap in Asia: fighting censorship or promoting propaganda?

In Asia, hip-hop artists have sparked political debates, fought censorship and in some cases promoted government propaganda. Thai group Rap Against Dictatorship denounced censorship under Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s rule in a video that has been viewed more than 60 million times on YouTube. In China, right before the 2019 annual parliamentary meetings Chinese state media Xinhua News released an English rap video called “two sessions” to praise the country’s social and scientific achievements.

A worldwide youth connection . . .

For millennials in Canada, rap is, among other things, a tool for exploring identities in Aboriginal and diaspora communities. Ming’s Dynasty, currently streaming on CBC Gem, is a comedy series about two Toronto rappers who relocated to Alberta to open a Chinese restaurant while pursuing their hip-hop dreams. Their music reflects Chinese-Canadian identities. And music by Aboriginal artists such as DJ Shub, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, and A Tribe Called Red fuses native drumming and powwow singing with dance beats while raising issues of concern in Indigenous communities in Canada. With its rising global popularity, hip-hop has become another means for finding commonality between Canada and the Asia Pacific.