Dalai Lama

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!)

tibet elects a new pm to smack china upside the head

Flag of Tibet

Image via Wikipedia

I generally try not to make political statements here, but today is different. Today exiled Tibetans in Dharamsala shook a fist in the direction of China making a firm statement that Tibetan leadership is strong by electing a new [political] Prime Minister, Lobsang* Sangay (who happens to be a Fulbright Scholar and the first Tibetan to attend Harvard law).  The Chinese opposition has yet to comment, yet they consider that Tibetans have no legitimacy, and no right to have held the election in the first place. Guess what – they did it anyway!  Why is this such a big step for Tibetans? Tibet is a land of reincarnated lamas (teachers) and leaders who are appointed to their positions. That they have elected a new Prime Minister at the urging of HHDL not only means that they have new blood sitting in office to take strong political action, but also that exiled Tibetans are taking a step towards democracy. This in turn pries open the eyeballs of democratic nations across the globe that haven’t wanted to touch the “Tibet Conflict” with a ten-foot dungchen.

I’m curious to see what will happen when a Harvard lawyer (born in Darjeerling) representing all of exiled Tibet collaborates with a few interested political heads and sits down for tea with some [imperialist] Chinese delegates… I just have a feeling good things will happen – maybe not immediately, but eventually and inevitably… I hope. 

 

*Lobsang means: disciple with a fine mind