Spotlight on: Dagyap, “Brothers on Fire”

Dagyap is a Tibetan hip-hop artist born and living in India. Just twenty-one years old, his real name is Sonam Chopel. He is known for releasing music that relates to the various problems that Tibetans face in exile. According to his facebook page, his influences are Jay Z, Tupac, the Game, and the Dalai Lama. That should give you a hint of what you are about to hear. 

Dagyap has not responded to my requests for an interview, unlike some other Tibetans in the exiled music scene. Yesterday he released a new piece on YouTube called “Brothers on Fire,” and I wanted to use this post/his spotlight to discuss the piece. If you need some background on the recent immolations of several Tibetan monks/nuns, consider reading the following articles, and the video that follows in this post:

I hate to include this video, but hold your breath and take a look [graphic warning]:

Now that you’re [hopefully] disgusted by this, and by your ignorance of its recent occurrence [13 times] in protest of the Chinese occupation, let’s take a look at Dagyap’s newest release, “Brothers on Fire” –

Before I continue, I’d like to mention [in case you aren’t aware] that as Marie Marshall recently said to me in another context, “The United States is in bed with China” – therefore nothing has/will be done about this via the United States. Tibet is virtually invisible in the American media, and our ridiculous relationship with China is the reason why (though with that said, the same ridiculous relationship may end up helping us face whatever is about to happen in North Korea as a result of Kim Jong Il’s death).

As you saw, the video opens with a salute for surviving the brutal Chinese mayhem.  The lyrics are as follows: 

(I had to type the lyrics into a text edit window and paste it as an image here – wordpress hates lyric formatting apparently)

This is musical expression that seeks to invoke change. This piece is framing an era, commenting on the current affairs of Tibetans while simultaneously reminding us that no one, including the UN, is doing a thing about it. Many musicians are social activists, and Dagyap is no exception.  The Tibetan issue is one of  global importance.  Hip-hop artists in the United States and South African have used their music as a means to disseminate the message of racial oppression, and artists in Indonesia have used hip-hop to speak out against government injustice and Islamic rule. Dagyap, and other Indo-Tibetan artists, are doing the same by sending this message: the Chinese are killing Tibetans. They are attempting to exterminate them.

Hip-hop in the Tibetan diaspora is a fairly new genre, as my forthcoming dissertation** [and hopefully, a few conference papers before then] will discuss.   In this piece, Dagyap names his oppressors, calls for change, and ends with the phrase “Bod Gyalo!” – illegal on Chinese soil [including the Tibetan autonomous region], this means “Victory for Tibet!” Here, here.  Congratulations to Dagyap on this outstanding piece of social commentary. Let’s share it with the stakeholders who give a damn, and more importantly, with those who don’t…


(**First I have to get this thesis churned out!)


  1. Thank you, for putting spot light on DAGYAP, best tibetan Rapper in India … If we speak about the very essence of the meaning of rap. He might have missed your request for an Interview because he’s right now hanging between Delhi, Gangtok and Vienna in Austria. Next time please contact me, I’m easier to catch and I’m managing his schedules. I love your article and the analyze of his lyrics. Please allow me to add the fallowing:
    DAGYAP Thanka Artist and FREE TIBET RAPPER
    3 months No1 on All India Reverbnation chart and winner of Radio Tibet’s
    “Best Tibetan Musicians” voting, has released his latest production
    A song dedicated to all Pawos (Tibetan self immolated people) … A song expressing anger and frustration of Tibet’s young generation, towards the situation in Ngaba and Kirti. It shows their revolt and defiance towards the oppressors, – the chinese leaders they see as the responsible for their daily struggle to live as refugees. The lack of prospects driving the weakest of them in to poverty and drugs … A song straight from a deeply steered up young heart.
    Like a one man company, DAGYAP produced from lyrics, video, design and stage direction all by himself … A Talent of Tibet on his way upwards, for sure.

    Tseten Zöchbauer
    HeART of TIBET Vienna / Austria

    1. Tseten, tujay-chay – I keep meaning to email you anyway. You’ll probably hear from me soon. I am so excited about what Dagyap is doing. Let him know he has supporters!

      1. Sorry, I have seen this message only now. Thank you! I sure will convey him your encouragement. I just come back from India. DAGYAP is working on his latest production. Just finished recording it when I was there and right now is doing the shooting of the video, with a very professional company. This latest song called “Lazy jungle” has not the issue of Tibet as subject but some experiences and feelings of his past. Since he ‘s a Tibetan youth, whatever he’ll do will bring Tibet theme in front. I very much support him to succeed to reach western and Indian youth, in order to have them getting interested in Tibetan people and Tibetan issue.
        I’ll keep you informed. My Email:
        Wish you all the success and joy for whatever is most important to you.
        Tashi Delek! Tseten

  2. Rock and hard place. Communism (old skool Bolshevism) wants hegemony. Capitalism likes little, break-away states because they’re easy prey for economic domination by international corporations. I say to hell with lines on maps – freedom for Tibetan and Chinese PEOPLE.

    But it’s not up to me. People can only liberate themselves, and they’ve got to want to. Meanwhile I’ll support anyone who won’t stay quiet.


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